How do Sam Spade and Brigid work together in The Maltese Falcon?

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lprono | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Dashiell Hammett's novel and the John Houston's 1941 film adaptation starring Bogart, Mary Astor and Peter Lorre had a crucial influence to establish the conventions of the noir/detective story genre. The characters of Sam and Brigid, therefore, originated a long series of private eyes and femme fatales who work together, fall in love, but never completely trust each other. In the case of The Maltese Falcon, Brigid seems to work together with Sam. Yet, she has a manipulative edge that is typical of the femme fatale, an alluring, seductive woman who is often guilty of crimes and whose frailty is just an appearance. Brigid is never completely sincere with Sam and her real feelings for him remain ambiguous throughout the novel. Brigid's actions seem to be motivated more by her quest for money and wealth than by her presumed love for Sam. All the caracters in the novel, including Sam, are moved by greed. Yet, in spite of his cynicism, Sam still retains a code of honor that is not shared by Brigid (or by the later, postmodern private eyes of the neo-noirs of the 1980s and 1990s). This is clear in his decision to hand Brigid over to the police for her murder of Miles Archer, Sam's business partner.

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