The Maltese Falcon


Dashiell Hammett

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The Maltese Falcon: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

At the office, Spade receives a phone call from Mr. G., who identifies himself as Casper Gutman, and they decide to meet that afternoon at Gutman’s hotel room. After Spade puts down the phone, Iva rushes into the office, confessing that she informed the police that Spade had something to do with Miles Archer’s murder. She explains that she called the police because she was jealous of seeing Spade with Brigid. She tells Spade she only came to his apartment to warn him that Phil Archer, Miles’ brother, found out about the affair and believes that Spade killed Miles. Understanding that she was upset, Spade forgives her and tells her to meet his lawyer, Sid Wise, for legal advice about how to deal with the cops from now on.
In some ways, Iva is the complete opposite of Brigid. Where Brigid is cunning and mostly plans her actions ahead of time, Iva lacks any forethought and acts rashly based on her emotions. Moreover, unlike Brigid, Iva really does seem to care for Spade, even if she at times expresses herself through jealousy.
Arriving at his hotel suite, Spade comes face to face with Casper Gutman, who the narrator describes as extremely fat. Very talkative, Gutman claims that they’re both honest, plain-speaking men who are looking out for their own best interests. Gutman then asks Spade to find the bird but then refuses Spade’s request for information about the item. Shouting in anger, Spade says that if Gutman wants him to find the bird, then he must be given all the information by five-thirty that day. Hearing the commotion, the young man enters the room from a side room. Before leaving, Spade threatens to kill the young man – who he refers to as a “gunsel,” – if the young man doesn’t stop following him.
Gutman’s physical appearance suggests that his excessive gluttony coincides with the other excessive aspects of his personality like his greed and talkativeness. Spade’s threat to kill the young man may reveal Spade’s lack of concern for law and morality. However, Spade may just be trying to make Gutman think he’s willing to use violence so that Gutman doesn’t try to double-cross him. Spade also refers to Wilmer as a “gunsel,” which means both a young gay man as well as a gun-carrying criminal, revealing how this novel connects homosexuality with guns.
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Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality Theme Icon
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