Theme Of Women In The Big Sleep

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Women in The Big Sleep
As I have mentioned before, this was true in the case of the rise of feminism. Before the turn of the century, “Women arrived, en masse, [to the Western frontier], and the ‘male-dominated homosocial world of gold rush California’ gave way to a ‘settled domestic Victorian discipline’” (Hoefer 49). That ‘Victorian discipline’ gave way in the 1920s to a deviant social norm, exemplified by Carmen and to a lesser extent Vivian. Right before Marlowe expresses how much he dislikes the rich, he gives this reason for it: “A pretty, spoiled and not very bright little girl who had gone very, very wrong, and nobody was doing anything about it” (Chandler 70). Before we move forward, it will be beneficial to discuss the portrayal of women in the novel and especially Carmen.
Women in the novel are highly sexualized. The best example of this is when Marlowe described Vivian Regan. An entire paragraph is spent describing her body and appearance from the bottom up. As Marlowe so eloquently put it, “She was worth a stare” (Chandler 16). Vivian, the eldest daughter
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This method of systematic portrayal of women who were liberated sexually as the Other is evident not only in The Big Sleep, but in Detective fiction as a whole. Like Hoefer states, “Just as the novel’s nostalgia whitewashes the frontier past, its understanding of gender fails to accommodate anything beyond several narrow, frontier-inspired categories” (49). With the formulation of the Femme Fatale and the affirmation of “the hierarchies and relations between the sexes sanctioned by bourgeois society,” Marlowe chooses to idealize past conceptions of gender and label anything that exists outside this conception with “the status of deviance” (Hoefer 50). In this way, Chandler, vicariously through Marlowe’s perceptions and thoughts, chooses to view those who are outside of his preconceived notions as the

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