The Maltese Falcon

The novel’s protagonist, Sam Spade is a handsome private detective. Although he sleeps with his partner’s wife, Iva Archer, and struggles with an almost greedy desire for wealth, the novel reveals his unshakable ethical integrity when he turns over his lover, Brigid O’Shaughnessy, to the police for murdering his partner Miles Archer. A heavy drinker and always smoking or about to be smoking, Spade is cunning, unbeatable in a fistfight, and mistrustful of almost everyone. He has little respect for the authorities and is willing to bend the law to get to the truth, but his desire for justice and his commitment to his personal code of ethics outweighs any other concern, including love or money.

Sam Spade Quotes in The Maltese Falcon

The The Maltese Falcon quotes below are all either spoken by Sam Spade or refer to Sam Spade. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Maltese Falcon published in 1992.
Chapter 1 Quotes

He looked rather pleasantly like a blonde satan.

Related Characters: Sam Spade
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

Her thin fingers finished shaping the cigarette. She licked it, smoothed it, twisted its ends, and placed it between Spade’s lips. He said, “Thanks, honey,” put an arm around her slim waist, and rested his cheek wearily against her hip, shutting his eyes.

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Effie Perine
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

“His second wife didn’t look like the first, but they were more alike than they were different. You know, the kind of women that play fair games of golf and bridge and like new salad-recipes…I don’t think he even knew he settled back naturally into the same groove he had jumped out of in Tacoma.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Brigid O’Shaughnessy, Flitcraft
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

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“He adjusted himself to beams falling, and then no more of them fell, and he adjusted himself to them not falling.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Brigid O’Shaughnessy, Flitcraft
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

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“And when you’re slapped you’ll take it and like it.” He released Cairo’s wrist and with a thick open hand struck the side of his face three times, savagely.

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Joel “Joe” Cairo
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes

“Oh, I’m so tired,” she said tremulously, “so tired of it all, of myself, of lying and thinking up lies, and not knowing what is a lie and what is the truth.”

Related Characters: Brigid O’Shaughnessy (speaker), Sam Spade
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 11 Quotes

“Well, sir, here’s to plain speaking and clear understanding.”

Related Characters: Casper Gutman (speaker), Sam Spade
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Keep that grunsel away from me while you’re making up your mind. I’ll kill him. I don’t like him. He makes me nervous. I’ll kill him the first time he gets in my way. I won’t give him an even break. I won’t give him a chance. I’ll kill him.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Casper Gutman, Wilmer Cook
Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 14 Quotes

My clients are entitled to a decent amount of secrecy. Maybe I can be made to talk to a Grand Jury or even a Coroner’s Jury, but I haven’t been called before either yet, and it’s a cinch I’m not going to advertise my clients’ business until I have to.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), District Attorney Bryan
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

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“And my only chance of ever catching them and tying them up and bringing them in is by keeping away from you and the police, because neither of you show any signs of knowing what in hell it’s all about.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), District Attorney Bryan
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

“Sam Spade,” she said, “you’re the most contemptible man God ever made when you want to be. Because she did something without confiding in you you’d sit here and do nothing when you know she’s in danger.”

Related Characters: Effie Perine (speaker), Sam Spade, Brigid O’Shaughnessy
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:

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The tall man stood in the doorway and there was nothing to showw that he saw Spade. He said, “You know –” and then the liquid bubbling came up in his throat and submerged whatever else he said.

Related Characters: Captain Jacobi (speaker), Sam Spade
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:

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He stepped back holding it up in front of him and blew dust off it, regarding it triumphantly. Effie Perine made a horrified face and screamed, pointing at his feet. He looked down at his feet. His last backward step had brought his left heel into contact with the dead man’s hand, pinching a quarter-inch of flesh at a side of the palm between the heel and the floor. Spade jerked his foot away from the hand.

Related Characters: Sam Spade, Effie Perine, Captain Jacobi
Related Symbols: The Maltese Falcon
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:

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He took his hand from his chin and rubbed her cheek. “You’re a damned good man, sister,” he said and went out.

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Effie Perine
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 18 Quotes

“At one time or another I’ve had to tell everybody from the Supreme Court down to go to hell, and I’ve got away with it. I got away with it because I never let myself forget that a day of reckoning was coming. I never forget that when the day of reckoning comes I want to be all set to march into headquarters pushing a victim in front of me, saying: ‘Here, you chumps, is your criminal!’ As long as I can do that I can put my thumb to my nose and wriggle my fingers at all the laws in the book.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Casper Gutman
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Bryan is like most district attorneys. He’s more interested in how his record will look on paper than anything else. He’d rather drop a doubtful case than try it and have it go against him. I don’t know that he ever deliberately framed anybody he believed innocent if he could scrape up, or twist into shape, proof of their guilt.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Casper Gutman, District Attorney Bryan
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 20 Quotes

He was pale. He said tenderly, “I hope to Christ they don’t hang you, precious, by that sweet neck.” He slid his hands up to caress her throat… “You’ll be out again in twenty years. You’re an angel. I’ll wait for you.” He cleared his throat. “If they hang you I’ll always remember you.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Brigid O’Shaughnessy
Page Number: 211
Explanation and Analysis:

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“When a man’s partner is killed he’s supposed to do something about it. It doesn’t make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you’re supposed to do something about it”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Brigid O’Shaughnessy
Page Number: 213
Explanation and Analysis:

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“I’m a detective and expecting me to run criminals down and then let them go free is like asking a dog to catch a rabbit and let it go. It can be done, all right, and sometimes it is done, but it’s not the natural thing.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Brigid O’Shaughnessy
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Would you have done this to me if the falcon had been real and you had been paid your money?”
“What difference does that make now? Don’t be too sure I’m as crooked as I’m supposed to be. That kind of reputation might be good business – bringing in high-priced jobs and making it easier to deal with the enemy.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Brigid O’Shaughnessy (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Maltese Falcon
Page Number: 215
Explanation and Analysis:

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She escaped from his arm as if it had hurt her. “Don’t, please, don’t touch me,” she said brokenly. “I know – I know you’re right. You’re right. But don’t touch me now – not now.” Spade’s face became pale as his collar.

Related Characters: Effie Perine (speaker), Sam Spade
Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:

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Sam Spade Character Timeline in The Maltese Falcon

The timeline below shows where the character Sam Spade appears in The Maltese Falcon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Spade & Archer
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality Theme Icon
With his v-shaped facial features and yellow-grey eyes, Samuel Spade is a private detective who resembles a good-looking version of Satan. Effie Perine, his lanky... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
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...no one to turn to, Wonderly says she has come to San Francisco to employ Spade to find her sister before their parents return from Europe in two weeks. Wonderly claims... (full context)
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In the middle of her story, Miles Archer barges into the office, startling Wonderly. Spade introduces Archer as his partner and fills him in on the details. Not meeting Archer’s... (full context)
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Spade tells Wonderly that they’ll have someone follow Thursby after he leaves the meeting with her.... (full context)
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Spade says they’ll put one of their detectives on the job, but she asks if either... (full context)
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After accompanying Wonderly out, Spade returns to his office where Archer mentions that he saw more hundreds in her purse.... (full context)
Chapter 2: Death in the Fog
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That evening, Samuel Spade wakes in the middle of the night to a phone call and the news that... (full context)
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The fog in the night blurs the streets as Spade makes his way to an alley where a group of men are huddled. Spade asks... (full context)
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Polhaus shows Spade the English revolver that was used to kill Archer. Spade tells Polhaus about how Archer... (full context)
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Spade returns home, drinks three glasses of Bacardi, and starts rolling his fifth cigarette when Polhaus... (full context)
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Dundy openly accuses Spade of slipping up and demands more info on Thursby and the client who wanted him... (full context)
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Dundy states that Spade had ample time, a motive, and enough information about Thursby to hunt him down. Spade... (full context)
Chapter 3: Three Women
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When Spade arrives at his office the next morning, Effie informs him that Iva Archer is waiting... (full context)
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After Iva leaves, Effie enters his office and asks about what Iva wanted. Spade tells her that Iva thinks he killed Archer. Effie wonders aloud if Iva believes that... (full context)
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...knocked at the door. Believing that Iva doesn’t have an inclination towards violence or murder, Spade reassures her that Iva didn’t kill Archer. As Spade heads out the door, he tells... (full context)
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Spade arrives at Wonderly’s hotel and discovers that she checked out that morning. When Spade returns... (full context)
Chapter 4: The Black Bird
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When Spade arrives at Miss Wonderly’s hotel room, she soon reveals she has no sister and that... (full context)
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Instead of telling him the info, Brigid gets on her knees and pleads for help. Spade comments she’s trying to deceive him with a prepared speech that makes her look helpless.... (full context)
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...promised to help her, but that he only took advantage of her desperateness. She tells Spade that Thursby must have been the one who killed Archer but she claims not to... (full context)
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When Spade returns to the office, Effie warns him that if he takes advantage of Brigid, she... (full context)
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Cairo says he’s working for a man who is willing to pay Spade $5,000 if he locates and retrieves a statue of a black bird. Effie briefly interrupts... (full context)
Chapter 5: The Levantine
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Calm and steady, Spade puts his hands behind his head. As Cairo searches Spade for a weapon, Spade elbows... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Undersized Shadow
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After Cairo leaves, Spade contemplates the offer and commits himself to searching for the statue. When Spades leaves the... (full context)
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In Brigid’s room, Spade tells her that he’s decided to protect her identity from the police. With the suspicion... (full context)
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When they arrive at his apartment building, Spade notices Iva Archer waiting in a car out front. He ushers Brigid into the lobby... (full context)
Chapter 7: G in the Air
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At Spade’s home, he and Brigid call the front desk at Cairo’s hotel, but the manager informs... (full context)
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Spade continues the story. Two years after Flitcraft’s disappearance, Mrs. Flitcraft employed Spade to follow up... (full context)
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Perhaps feeling that Spade is confiding in her, Brigid responds to the story by claiming she has complete trust... (full context)
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...a young man in Constantinople. In response, she slaps him and he slaps her back. Spade intervenes, choking Cairo and slapping him three times across the face. (full context)
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A knock at the door surprises the group. Spade tells them to stay quiet before opening the door to find Dundy and Polhaus at... (full context)
Chapter 8: Horse Feathers
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Not wanting the police to bring them to the station, Spade tells Dundy that the three of them were just playing a practical joke on him.... (full context)
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Cairo and Brigid confirm that it was all a practical joke. Spade tells the police that if they bring them to the station, the newspapers will ridicule... (full context)
Chapter 9: Brigid
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Alone with Brigid in the apartment, Spade lets his contempt for Dundy show, cursing nonstop for five minutes. After regaining his composure,... (full context)
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Once again, Spade demands Brigid provide more information about herself. In response, Brigid tells Spade that Cairo offered... (full context)
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Spade doubts, aloud, that any of what she has just told him is true, and she... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Belvedere Divan
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The next morning, Spade wakes up beside Brigid, who is naked and fast asleep. Rummaging through her clothes, Spade... (full context)
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Spade goes to Cairo’s hotel where he notices the young man who was shadowing him the... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 11: The Fat Man
At the office, Spade receives a phone call from Mr. G., who identifies himself as Casper Gutman, and they... (full context)
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Arriving at his hotel suite, Spade comes face to face with Casper Gutman, who the narrator describes as extremely fat. Very... (full context)
Chapter 12: Merry-go-Round
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After leaving the hotel, Spade meets with his lawyer, Sid Wise, at his law office. Sid recounts the story that... (full context)
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Spade arrives at back at his office and finds Effie waiting for him. She tells Spade... (full context)
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After finding nothing of use in the paper, Spade lets himself into Brigid’s hotel room with the key she gave him but he finds... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Emperor’s Gift
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In the room, Spade gives the guns to Gutman who seems more impressed with Spade’s abilities than annoyed with... (full context)
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...for him, but those same agents have yet to give him the statue. Gutman tells Spade that if he retrieves the bird, then he will give Spade a choice. He’ll pay... (full context)
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As Spade thinks over the deal, he suddenly realizes that his drink has been drugged. When he... (full context)
Chapter 14: La Paloma
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The next morning, Spade quietly opens his office door to find Effie asleep at the reception desk. He wakes... (full context)
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Spade next heads to Cairo’s hotel where he meets up with Luke, the hotel detective, and... (full context)
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Back at the office, Spade returns the calls of Tom Polhaus and District Attorney Bryan, arranging individual meetings with each... (full context)
Chapter 15: Every Crackpot
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Spade and Polhaus meet for a lunch of pickled pig’s feet at a diner. Polhaus apologizes... (full context)
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After talking with Polhaus, Spade meets District Attorney Bryan at the man’s office. Bryan asks Spade for his opinion on... (full context)
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Spade ridicules Bryan’s theory as completely ungrounded, telling Bryan that the only way he’ll catch the... (full context)
Chapter 16: The Third Murder
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At the office, Effie strokes Spade’s head as he tells her that Brigid may have been around La Paloma when it... (full context)
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Spade returns to the office an hour later in uncharacteristically high spirits. Effie tells him that... (full context)
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Spade returns to the office and tells Effie that during the hour he was gone, he... (full context)
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Spade inspects the body and sees that the man has been shot a half a dozen... (full context)
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Before leaving, Spade tells Effie to call the police and let them know about the body, but to... (full context)
Chapter 17: Saturday Night
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Spade hides the falcon in a locker at the bus depot then takes the locker key... (full context)
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Spade helps her walk back inside the apartment, realizing that Gutman must have drugged her. In... (full context)
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...people at a house down the street. After getting the key and searching the house, Spade realizes he’s been tricked since no one has been to the house in weeks. (full context)
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Spade returns home and, as he puts his key into the door, Brigid rushes towards him,... (full context)
Chapter 18: The Fall-Guy
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Spade and Brigid enter the room and sit on the couch across from Gutman. Cairo and... (full context)
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Spade says the money doesn’t matter until they find a fall-guy on whom to pin the... (full context)
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Spade tries to convince them to betray Wilmer, saying that Wilmer wouldn’t be able to sell... (full context)
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Unable to listen to Spade’s plan any longer, Wilmer threatens to kill Spade. Gutman calms Wilmer by telling Spade that... (full context)
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Spade tells Gutman that he hopes Wilmer’s gun is not preventing him from betraying Wilmer since... (full context)
Chapter 19: The Russian’s Hand
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Not wanting to betray Wilmer, Cairo considers forgoing the pursuit of the bird, but Spade says if he does then they’ll have to turn him in alongside his “boyfriend” Wilmer.... (full context)
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...run off with the bird. Although Jacobi got away, the criminals forced Brigid to call Spade and pretend to be in danger so that he left the office, giving Wilmer time... (full context)
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Satisfied with the info, Spade asks Brigid to make them some coffee. During the struggle with Wilmer, Gutman had noticed... (full context)
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...dollar bills is missing and accuses Brigid of stealing it. Although she denies his accusation, Spade takes her to the bathroom and forces her to undress in order to confirm that... (full context)
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Brigid goes into the kitchen to prepare food and coffee as Spade confronts Gutman, claiming that Gutman himself stole the bill while he counted the money. After... (full context)
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After sunrise, Spade calls Effie, gives her the info about the bird’s location, and asks her to bring... (full context)
Chapter 20: If They Hang You
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As soon as they leave, Spade calls Polhaus and lets him know that Wilmer killed Thursby and Jacobi on Gutman and... (full context)
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Spade infers that Brigid wanted to get Thursby out of the way so she could keep... (full context)
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Spade reasons that Thursby couldn’t have killed Archer since Archer would have been drawn into the... (full context)
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Thinking he will still help her, Brigid confesses to the crime. Spade, however, tells her that she’ll probably be sentenced to twenty years in jail for killing... (full context)
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...had been real and he got his money, would he still have turned her in. Spade answers that the falcon wasn’t real, but also that he’s not as crooked as he... (full context)
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...office, Effie asks if the papers were right in reporting that he turned in Brigid. Spade confirms the story and she looks at him with contempt, saying that he did the... (full context)