42 pages 1 hour read

Raymond Chandler

The Long Goodbye

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1953

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Character Analysis

Philip Marlowe

Philip Marlowe is the protagonist of The Long Goodbye. He is an investigator who is swept up in the complicated lives of the rich and powerful. As a private detective, he is not a rich man. He has no close family and thinks occasionally about the life he might have led, had he chosen a different profession. His poverty and isolation contrast with the people he investigates, constantly reminding Marlowe of his lack of resources. They mock his house, his office, and his wages, knowing that they have far more than he ever will. For all his material poverty, however, Marlowe is not morally impoverished. He is a fiercely moral person who does what he feels needs to be done, even when doing so will cost him money or endanger his life. He makes no money from either the Lennox or the Wade case; he refuses payment on numerous occasions because payment would taint the morality of his actions. In this sense, Marlowe functions as the moral center of the novel and the perfect counterpoint to the portrayals of the rich and powerful: They are wealthy and immoral, whereas Marlowe is content to be impoverished but to retain his morality.