42 pages 1 hour read

Raymond Chandler

The Long Goodbye

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1953

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Themes

The Poverty of Morality

One of Marlowe’s defining traits is that he is a relentlessly moral man. At the same time, he is not a rich man. Often, Marlowe must decide between accepting payment for services which contradict his moral code. He frequently refuses. Whether he is offered money to babysit Wade, a lucrative future job working for Harlon Potter, or a $5,000 bill sent to him by Lennox, Marlowe has no trouble turning down material rewards. He lives in a small house in a low-income neighborhood, operates out of a small office, and lives a limited lifestyle compared to the people he works for and investigates. Marlowe sacrifices material wealth in favor of his morality. Luckily for Marlowe, this distinction makes his services coveted. People seek him out because they know that they can trust him to do what is right, rather than just what pays best or is easiest. The irony of Marlowe sacrificing immediate rewards so that he can take a moral stance is that, by taking the moral stance, he increases the likelihood of future business. Morality and wealth intersect in a complicated way in the novel, but Marlowe always favors morality over money, even though doing so keeps him perpetually balanced on the brink of poverty.

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By Raymond Chandler

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