Farewell, My Lovely Summary & Study Guide
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 47-page guide for “Farewell, My Lovely” by Raymond Chandler includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 41 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Marlowe Versus the Cops and Marlowe as Anti-hero.
Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely, first published in 1940, is a crime drama best described as a noir novel. Intended for adult audiences, the novel follows many noir conventions, such as the plot centering around a murder investigation; the protagonist, Philip Marlowe, being both a private investigator and an anti-hero; and the setting consisting of a dark city run by criminals. This is Chandler’s second novel in a series that uses Philip Marlowe as the main character.
The novel is told from Marlowe’s point of view, resulting in descriptions that are often exceptionally-detailed and reflect the nuance of the world around him. For example, Marlowe often describes the minutiae of each character he encounters, whether it be the fine details of a person’s clothing, their physical features, or the subtlety of their personality coming through in a gesture. In this way, the composition of the novel reflects the genre: the protagonist is a private investigator, and the reader sees the world of the novel through his critical eye. The specific language also reflects Marlowe’s personality in that it’s colored with sarcasm, wit, and a vulgar honesty.
The novel begins with a murder, and the rest of the novel involves Marlowe following clues to uncover a larger mystery. In this way, the novel is structured like a puzzle, in that each clue leads Marlowe to find another clue. By the end, he pieces these clues together to see the larger picture. Since this is a noir novel, the inciting incident is the murder of the owner of a bar named Florian’s, and Marlowe’s curiosity about the murderer, Moose Malloy. Moose Malloy was a bank robber and now a murderer, and Marlowe makes it his job to find Malloy’s old flame, Velma, in the hopes of learning more.
The novel follows a linear storyline, without flashing back or forward in time. In this way, the novel’s structure is comprised of the basic idea that A happens, then B, then C, with each event inciting the next: Marlowe meets Moose, which makes him search for Velma, which leads him to Marriott, which leads him to Anne, Mrs. Grayle, Amthor and Dr. Sonderborg. All of this eventually leads him to realize that Mrs. Grayle actually is Velma. While the storyline is straightforward, the plot grows increasingly complex with each new clue that Marlowe discovers.