What is a good way to summarize chapter 10 of The Maltese Falcon?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter 10 ofThe Maltese Falcon, Hammett characteristically has several different things happening. Spade searches Brigid O'Shaughnessy's apartment, leaving her asleep in his bed at his apartment. He find nothing but a week-old receipt for the month's apartment rent at the Coronet. (This will prove significant later.) He leaves evidence that her apartment was broken into overnight.

He returns to his apartment with groceries, using them to explain why he was gone. He tries to continue questioning Brigid about the mysterious black bird, but she refuses to answer any more questions. He takes her to the Coronet in a taxi and then goes to the Belvedere Hotel to check on Joel Cairo.

Cairo is not in, but Spade spots Wilmer Cook, Gutman's gun man, sitting in the lobby. Spade sits beside him and starts a cordial conversation, but the young man keeps insulting him. Spade tells Wilmer to tell his boss, whom he only knows as "G," that he will have to talk to him if he wants the falcon.

After another insult, Spade signals the hotel-detective and points Wilmer out as a "cheap gunman" with big automatic pistols in both overcoat pockets. Luke, the house-detective, tells Wilmer to get out and not come back.

Later in the morning, Joel Cairo finally returns. He says he has been up all night being grilled by the police, but that he adhered to the silly story Spade had told them in Chapter 8 about how they had staged a fake fight to play a joke on Lieutenant Dundy and Sergeant Polhaus.

Spade returns to his office and is informed by Effie Perrine, his secretary, that Ivy Archer has called three times. Sergeant Polhaus has also called. And "G" called and said he would call again.

Brigid shows up and says that she is terrified because her apartment was broken into. She is afraid to go back there. Spade arranges with Effie to put her up at her home for a few nights, and the two women leave immediately in a taxi.

Chapter 10 is a good example of how Hammett keeps all the characters constantly involved in the story, and how he creates the feelings of fast-paced action with Spade on top of everything.

 

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