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Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 569

The Long Goodbye is a novel by Raymond Chandler. It seeks to point out the corruption within rich American society. The story features Philip Marlowe, a private investigator who befriends Terry Lennox at the parking lot of a restaurant in Beverly Hills. The story has many characters who contribute to the plot development, and they include the following:

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Philip Marlowe – He is a private detective in Los Angeles. He befriends Terry Lennox in the parking lot of a restaurant in Beverly Hills. Later, Marlowe drops Lennox at the airport in Tijuana without knowing that Lennox's rich and promiscuous wife had been murdered the previous night. This draws Marlowe into the investigation despite warnings from the syndicate and the cops not to meddle in their business. Eventually, Marlowe is able to uncover the truth with the assistance of Bernie Ohls, a sheriff's lieutenant.

Linda Loring – She is a sister to Sylvia, who is Terry’s dead wife. She is the wife of a physician and happens to be Marlowe’s lover for a night. She is among the many people who warn Marlowe not to get involved in the investigation into the death of Sylvia.

Terry Lennox – He is the charming drunk whom Marlowe befriends in the restaurant parking lot. He is a war veteran who turns to alcohol to keep the war memories at bay. He confesses to killing his wife, thus prompting the police to release agent Marlowe, who had been arrested as an accessory. However, he is not prosecuted, as police believe that he had committed suicide, leaving a written confession to the murder by his side.

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Eileen Wade – She is the wife of Roger Wade. Her husband has a drinking problem and goes missing for three days before she opts to seek the assistance of Marlowe. She is suspected of having sneaked into the study and shot her husband, Roger, while Marlowe was outside. Marlowe finds out that she was once married to Terry Lennox, who, back then, went by the name Paul Marston. Marlowe confronts her with that information, and later that night she commits suicide.

Bernie Ohls – He is a lieutenant in the Sheriff’s department and a friend to detective Philip Marlowe. He plays a crucial part in establishing who actually killed Sylvia Lennox by providing Marlowe with the right information. He is the one who informs Marlowe that Eileen Wade shot her husband, Roger Wade.

Sylvia Lennox – She is the daughter of Harlan Potter, who owns a newspaper publishing company. She is wife to Terry Lennox and also sister to Linda Loring. She is portrayed as rich and promiscuous, having been married a total of six times. She is married to Lennox for the second time when she is murdered.

Roger Wade – He is a drunkard who goes missing for three days before Marlowe finds him in a makeshift detox facility. Later he is found dead in his study room with a bullet in his head. His wife, Eileen, believes that he was having an affair with Sylvia Lennox; she admits as much in her suicide note.

Harlan Potter – He is a rich business mogul who owns a newspaper publishing company. He is the father of Linda Loring and Sylvia Lennox. He is one of the people who want Marlowe to stop investigating the death of Sylvia. He is much more concerned with his privacy than the death of his own daughter.

The Characters

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 331

Philip Marlowe is at the center of the action, as he is in all seven of Chandler’s detective novels. He conforms to Chandler’s dictum, in the essay “The Simple Art of Murder,” that a fictional private eye should be a kind of knight amid the grim decay of the modern city, a conscientious man who tries to right the wrongs of society. In The Long Goodbye, Marlowe and the world through which he moves are less tough and gritty than in the earlier Chandler novels. Marlowe makes several sentimental gestures when he thinks that Terry Lennox is dead; he pursues his investigations only because of his interest in Lennox; he never has a paying client; and he moves with ease in a more affluent social world than that of the earlier novels.

Among the other characters, Terry Lennox and Eileen Wade are the most interesting. Lennox has irresistible charm, and once in his life has performed an instinctive, heroic action, earning the gratitude of two powerful gangsters whose lives he saved. He is, however, without any moral sense, and it is this lack that leads to his decay, his connivance in the phony suicide, and Marlowe’s eventual rejection of him. Eileen Wade is a woman of “paralyzing” beauty who cannot accept the loss of her youthful romantic marriage. Until confronted with Marlowe’s evidence, she believes that her murders are justified and that her beauty and power over men will enable her to escape the consequences of her actions.

The other characters are vividly delineated. Linda Loring’s physician husband is a jealous man, a snob overconfidently sure of his social and professional position. Harlan Potter is suitably austere and tough. Marlowe’s policeman friend, Bernie Ohls, engages in angry exchanges with Marlowe, disagrees with him about the nature of crime, and cynically uses him to trap one of Lennox’s gangster friends. The minor policemen, gangsters, and petty crooks are stock types, but each has identifying characteristics.

Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 511

Philip Marlowe

Philip Marlowe, a Los Angeles private detective who befriends Terry Lennox, a gentle drunk with good manners. When Lennox comes to Marlowe for help, the detective drives him across the border into Mexico, unaware that earlier that night, Lennox’s rich and promiscuous wife, Sylvia, had been brutally murdered. Later, Marlowe is drawn into the rich social world dominated by Sylvia’s father, Harlan Potter, when Eileen Wade asks him to help her writer husband, Roger Wade. As Marlowe tries to understand and help Roger Wade, an alcoholic, he finds himself trying to find the murderer of Sylvia Lennox. With the help of detective Bernie Ohls, Marlowe discovers the truth.

Terry Lennox

Terry Lennox, a war hero and a drunkard. He marries Sylvia Lennox for the second time, knowing what kind of woman she is. After Marlowe has taken him across the border, he flies to a remote Mexican village, from which he writes Marlowe a suicide note. Harlan Potter’s lawyer confirms his death, and everyone but Marlowe believes he killed his wife.

Roger Wade

Roger Wade, a writer of popular historical romances who drinks too much. Marlowe believes that Wade is drinking to forget some terrible experience, but before Wade reveals what it is, he apparently commits suicide. Marlowe believes that his suicide, like Terry Lennox’s, was phony.

Eileen Wade

Eileen Wade, an incredibly beautiful woman who tries to get Marlowe involved in the problems of her marriage. He finds her behavior strange and inexplicable, as when she apparently mistakes him for a former lover and tries to seduce him. She had been, Marlowe discovers, the wartime wife of Terry Lennox and later murdered Sylvia, whom she blamed for what became of Terry. When Marlowe reveals that he will try to prove that she murdered Sylvia Lennox and Roger Wade, Eileen commits suicide.

Harlan Potter

Harlan Potter, the father of Sylvia Lennox and Linda Loring. He owns newspapers and is worth more than $100 million. He uses threats and the promise of helping Marlowe’s business to try to get Marlowe to stop investigating the death of his daughter, Sylvia. His privacy is worth more to him than anything else in life, and he has the money and power to preserve it.

Sylvia Lennox

Sylvia Lennox, a beautiful, spoiled, and rich woman who uses men for her amusement. She has been married six times, twice to Terry Lennox. No one is surprised when she is murdered, because a number of people would have had strong reasons to kill her.

Linda Loring

Linda Loring, Sylvia’s sister. Also beautiful, she is otherwise unlike her sister, remaining faithful to her suspicious and nasty doctor husband until the end. She leaves him to spend the night with Marlowe before departing for Paris, where she will obtain a divorce and begin a new life.

Bernie Ohls

Bernie Ohls, a sheriff’s deputy, an old friend of Marlowe. He helps Marlowe with information about the police investigation of Sylvia Lennox’s death and argues with Marlowe about the state of American society.

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