Each of the characters is motivated by some kind of hope.
Brigid O'Shaughnessy hopes to keep the falcon to herself and make a lot of money from it.
Miles Archer hopes to have an affair with Brigid.
Archer's wife Iva hopes to get a divorce and marry Sam Spade.
Spade hopes to capture the person who killed his partner.
Caspar Gutman has been hoping to get possession of the falcon for seventeen years.
Wilmer Cook hopes to marry Rhea Gutman. This vain hope explains his steadfast loyalty to his employer, Gutman.
Lieutenant Dundy hopes to send Spade to San Quentin for murdering Miles Archer or for murdering Floyd Thursby.
Joel Cairo hopes to get possession of the falcon for his employer, General Kemidov.
Effie Perrine hopes to break up the romance between Iva Archer and her employer Sam Spade. She may be the only one to have her hopes realized.
Floyd Thursby hoped to share the profit from the falcon with Brigid.