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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The Long Goodbye has a few themes. The most prominent is an analysis of crime and corruption in America. Another theme is the socioeconomic divide between the rich and poor. The symbolism of mansions and other symbols of wealth are prominently featured in the novel, illustrating that members of the affluent class are usually the perpetrators of corruption.

The Long Goodbye critiques the dynamics of corruption and economic/social power. The government officials and rich businessmen are portrayed as untrustworthy and exploitative of the masses (for instance, exploiting gambling addiction among the poor to secure more wealth).

The Long Goodbye presents corruption as one of the worst crimes in society, because corruption is rooted in those entrusted to enforce the law and protect the public. In the novel, "crime isn't a disease; it's a symptom." This emphasizes the message that Chandler is trying to convey: that crime is not in itself the problem, but rather evidence of a broken system.

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Critical Essays