The Maltese Falcon


Dashiell Hammett

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The Maltese Falcon: Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

The next morning, Spade wakes up beside Brigid, who is naked and fast asleep. Rummaging through her clothes, Spade finds the key to her hotel room and heads there to search for any clues. After finding nothing of use, Spade returns home without Brigid knowing anything about his departure. While Brigid showers, he slips the key back into her clothes pocket. Later, as they eat breakfast, he asks her about the true story of the bird. She refuses on the basis that they shouldn’t talk about such things after sharing an intimate evening together. After breakfast, Spade drops her off at her hotel and they make plans for dinner.
Spade reveals his lax moral standards when he searches the room of the woman he just slept with. His behavior towards Brigid reveals that at some level he knows Brigid was just using sex to make him stop asking question. As such, he lacks all sentimentality when dealing with her. In contrast, Brigid continues to pretend that the sex was meaningful in order to avoid answering questions. Put another way: he avoids sentimentality to get what he wants, while she uses sentimentality to get what she wants.
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Spade goes to Cairo’s hotel where he notices the young man who was shadowing him the previous day waiting in the lobby. Realizing the young man probably works for the Mr. G that Brigid made reference to, Spade confronts the young man about his employer. The young man pretends to know nothing so Spade calls over the hotel-detective, Luke, who asks the young man to leave.
Spade appears to have a good working relationship with Luke, implying that Spade gets along better with other private detectives than with police officers. The police represent the incompetent authority that Spade finds so contemptible.
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Twenty minutes after the young man leaves, Spade notices a disheveled Cairo returning to the hotel. Cairo tells Spade that the police have been interrogating him all night, but that he kept to the same story about it being a practical joke. In order to make Cairo think he’s still working for him, Spade tells Cairo he only slapped him so that Brigid would trust him and help him find the bird. Implying he doesn’t fully trust Spade, Cairo tells him that he always has a smooth answer ready. Spade shrugs off Cairo’s distrust with a joke and Cairo goes upstairs to sleep.
At this point, the reader has no firm evidence to know who Spade is really working for. Because the novel provides no access to Spade’s inner feelings or thoughts, his allegiances and loyalties are as mysterious to us as they are to the other characters. Spade’s motives may be as dubious as everyone else’s seem to be.
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Back at the office, Effie tells Spade that Mr. G. called and wants to speak to him. When Spade enters his private office, Brigid is there waiting. She tells Spade her room was searched and that she wants to move hotels again. Instead, Spade asks Effie if Brigid could stay at her house for a few days. Effie agrees and Spade makes plans to send Brigid in a taxi to Effie’s home. However, he makes sure that Brigid doesn’t leave until a while after Effie does, so that the young man who’s been following Spade doesn’t realize that Brigid is staying at Effie’s.
Although Spade is willing to break Brigid’s trust by searching her room and lying to her about it, he still appears to want her to feel safe. However, Spade may just be telling her to stay at Effie’s so that he can have Effie watch over her for him. Spade’s motives and his true feelings about Brigid remain a mystery.
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