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What are the values of crime fiction in The Maltese Falcon?

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jetjoy | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 12, 2011 at 10:55 AM via web

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What are the values of crime fiction in The Maltese Falcon?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 12, 2011 at 5:27 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that one can find several examples of values in crime fiction from Hammett's work.  One of these values is the directed end to which the crimefighter must succeed.  There is little doubt that in crime fiction, the person sworn to fight crime and find "the answer" definitely does so.  Sam Spade is shown to be too shrewd and too insightful to take anything less.  Additionally, much in crime fiction is developed with the idea that the person who is meant to fight crime is pretty much incorruptible.  In a setting where so much in way of graft, apathy, and ignorance have colluded with one another to form a "perfect storm" that will doom society, the crime fighter in crime fiction is one who stands alone.  The crime fighter is able to fully embrace the struggle that is present.  I think that another element of crime fiction values that is present here is that there is a honor in being the sole force that remedies that which is wrong.  Crime fiction praises the emphasis and actions of one individual, Sam Spade or Clarice Starling.  In the end, such individuals are driven to embody one of the critical elements of crime fiction, in that there is an answer and one simply has to display the commitment in order to find it and demonstrate success in solving the crime, in question.

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