Homosexuality in the Big Sleep
Essay Preview: Homosexuality in the Big Sleep
Report this essay
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler brings up the themes of cynicism, corruption, drugs, murders and sexualities of 1930s America. Other than the obvious gender stereotyping Chandler used in his novel, the issue of homosexuality was also addressed in the form of villain characters. However, I believe that there was deeper meaning and greater use of this issue in the novel that I would like to explore.
Remembering that the novel was written in the 1930s, the issue of homosexuality was not described in positive light throughout the novel; Chandler was considered brave enough to include it in his work at that time. Carol Lundgren and Arthur Geiger were the two homosexual characters, and both of their lives were written sadly despicable. Arthur Geiger for example, ran a business in pornography, and made enemy with the Sternwoods by blackmailing them. The character ended up being murdered after contemptibly taking nude pictures of Carmen Sternwood. Carol Lundgren, Geigers lover, turned out to be another antagonist when he murdered Joe Brody, who he had mistakenly thought to kill Geiger. Lundgren was also shown to have a bad attitude by often swearing, “Go f—- yourself,” throughout his appearance in chapter fifteen to eighteen. Further implications that the two homosexual characters did not appear to be accepted well in the society include name-calling by the protagonists. Marlowe once said to Lundgren referring to Geiger, “You must have thought a lot of that queen,” (97). In another passage, Marlowe also unfolded Geigers relationship with Lundgren: “Dont kid me, son. The fag gave you one. Youve got a nice clean manly little room in there. He shooed you out and locked it up when he had lady visitors. He was like Caesar, a husband to women and a wife to men.” (100) This political incorrectness incorporated common prejudices of the time, where homosexual men were referred as fags and pansies.
The other interesting observation that I made was regarding Philip Marlowe, who came out to me as having traces of homosexuality in his character. Despite being presented to the reader as a seemingly straightforward and masculine, inside Chandlers characterization of Marlow lies a complex figure that arouses personal questions on his views on women and relationships. He certainly was caught in almost-romantic moments with the female characters in the novel, such as when Marlowe first met Vivian Reagan and appreciated the sexiness of femme fatale character like Carmen Sternwood. Yet, Marlow never once acted on any of these attractions. Whenever any female character attempted to engage Marlowe in intimate activity, Chandler made it sound as if Marlowe was forcibly seduced. For instance, Vivian Reagan demanded him to hold her close in the car and lured him into sleeping with her, which Marlowe rejected. Furthermore, Marlowes homosexuality is illuminated in the scene in which he came home