Philip Marlowe has long been regarded as the prototypal private investigator. Countless practitioners of the genre have liberally borrowed for their central characters the qualities with which Chandler endows Marlowe: honor, pride, a sense of humor, a sense of character, and an inborn, intense curiosity about people and situations. This last quality is what draws Marlowe to Moose Malloy initially and what (along with the other qualities) propels him forward during his investigation.
By using Marlowe as the narrator, Chandler allows his character’s salient features to appear through Marlowe’s thoughts, actions, opinions, and descriptions. A perfect example of this occurs when Anne Riordan shows him a picture of Mrs. Lewin Lockridge Grayle and Marlowe sees her as “a blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window.” Though this assessment of her proves to be most accurate, it does not prevent him from participating, at first, in her attempted seduction of him. Marlowe’s sense of fair play prevails, and he immediately leaves when her husband walks in. Yet this makes no difference to Mrs. Grayle; she tells Marlowe to forget about her husband.
This is not a woman born to wealth or to high social standing, as Marlowe soon finds out. Indeed, Mrs. Grayle is Velma Valento, the object of Malloy’s search, a woman perfectly capable of killing to protect what she has acquired. Shrewd and calculating, she is quick to act and acts...
(The entire section is 585 words.)