The Maltese Falcon


Dashiell Hammett

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Maltese Falcon can help.
Current Battle Ends 2/28
We'll make guides for February's winners by March 31st—guaranteed.
Current Battle Ends on 2/28/2021
Time Remaining

The Maltese Falcon: Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

After Cairo leaves, Spade contemplates the offer and commits himself to searching for the statue. When Spades leaves the office, he notices a young man watching him. As Spade makes his way to the opera to find Cairo, the young man follows him. Outside the opera house, Spade find Cairo and asks him about the young man, but Cairo responds that he has no knowledge of the boy’s identity or his intentions. Cairo returns to the opera as Spade and his shadow board the same trolley. To lose the young man, Spade enters an apartment building, goes out the back entrance, and walks another few blocks to Brigid’s hotel.
The shadowed figure remains nameless for a large part of the novel. This lack of identity makes him embody the unknown secrets and deceptions that fill this novel.
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
In Brigid’s room, Spade tells her that he’s decided to protect her identity from the police. With the suspicion that she is somehow connected to Cairo’s mysterious appearance, Spade nonchalantly mentions Cairo and his offer about the statue. Frightened and upset, she accuses him of failing to protect her, but Spade responds that she had given him no indication that Cairo even existed. After Spade says he’ll only reject Cairo’s offer if she pays him more than $5,000, she offers to instead pay him with her body. Spade disdainfully refuses her offer and tells her if she wants him to continue working for her, then he needs more information about the nature of her problem. Brigid says that before she can tell him anything else, she first must speak to Cairo. She and Spade agree that they should call Cairo from Spade’s apartment.
Claiming to work for the person who’ll pay him the most money, Spade makes Brigid think that money is the only thing that determines his loyalties. Because she can’t pay with money, Brigid tries to use sex as a currency to pay Spade. Brigid’s attitude towards sex disturbs Spade, showing that although he is willing to sleep with his partner’s wife, he is not willing to exchange his services for sexual favors as if sex were like money. In the end, Spade’s desire for more information appears to outweigh his desire for the highest paycheck.
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
When they arrive at his apartment building, Spade notices Iva Archer waiting in a car out front. He ushers Brigid into the lobby before returning to talk to Iva at her car. On the verge of tears, she says they need to talk, but Spade tells her he is too busy. As she drives off in anger, Spade notices the young man watching him from the shadows.
Spade has found himself in the middle of a love-triangle between the emotionally unstable Iva and the deceitful Brigid. Neither women seem like feasible romantic partners for Spade because he doesn’t trust either of them fully.
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon