The Maltese Falcon


Dashiell Hammett

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The Maltese Falcon: Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Calm and steady, Spade puts his hands behind his head. As Cairo searches Spade for a weapon, Spade elbows Cairo in the cheek, tripping him and taking his gun. When Cairo is on the floor, Spade strikes him again in the face, knocking him unconscious. Spade transfers Cairo to the chair then goes to work searching the man’s possessions, which include a ticket for an opera scheduled for that evening.
Here, the novel portrays Spade as the epitome of masculinity. He is levelheaded despite the gun pointed at him and easily disarms Cairo in a feat of strength and athleticism. Now we know why Spade doesn’t carry a gun: he can just take one from the person sticking him up. He’s so masculine he doesn’t need a gun.
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When Cairo slowly wakes up, he tells Spade he only intended to search the office for the statue and is still willing to pay the $5,000. Cairo refuses to tell Spade to whom the bird belongs or why Cairo’s employer thought Spade had it. After Cairo agrees to pay Spade $200 dollars upfront, Spade agrees to look for the bird. Spade returns Cairo’s possessions along with his gun. Immediately, Cairo points the gun at Spade and, to Spade’s surprise, politely carries out his search of the office.
Although Spade is suspicious of Cairo, he is willing to risk involving himself with the man. At this point in the narrative, it’s unclear if Spade agrees to work for Cairo in order to make the $5,000 or because he senses that Cairo has something to do with Archer’s murder. Yet when Cairo tricks Spade and does end up searching the room it establishes the fact that Spade is not all-knowing. He can be tricked and bested, which only increases the tension of the novel.
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