The Long Goodbye

The Long Goodbye is a fictional detective fiction novel by a Raymond Chandler. The story revolves around a detective; Philip Marlowe, who is in the quest of finding justice for the injustices happening in the quiet LA’s valley. Philip Marlowe experiences a series of killings where it starts with the murder of Lennox’s wife; a man he met in the streets and developed a mutual understanding. Marlowe is willing to help Lennox find the truth behind his wife’s death when he commits suicide, and things begin to take a big turn.  A series of events unfold following Lennox’s suicide, and they draw Marlowe into a sordid crowd of rich people and adulterers to find justice. Long Goodbye is a detective genre that follows the hardboiled fiction characteristics as detailed by Milda Danyte. This essay explores three of the nine features relating to Long Goodbye.

The first characteristic Milda notes of hardboiled detective fiction is that there is a collapse of both ideological and moral values. In the Long Goodbye; for instance, Lonnie Morgan, a reporter says, “Rich men own and publish newspapers, and it seems like a competition. They will publish anything as long it doesn’t damage their power and prestige (Chandler, 68)”. Although in today’s world religion and moral values have played a role in shaping people’s behavior, in noir’s world, there are no moral values. Individuals engage in acts that are only beneficial to them, and they can go to the extent of sacrificing their family for their gains. Money is the defining factor. For example, when Marlowe asks Lennox why he married Sylvia, he says, “Price tag, you may think I am not happy, but who the hell wants to be happy, I’m rich (Chandler, 479).” Lennox married Sylvia for money at the expense of his self-respect and happiness.

Another characteristic of hardboiled detective fiction is that the story begins with a crime and ends with a solution. In the Long Goodbye, the story starts with a crime where Marlowe, who is a detective, meets Terry Lennox whose wife had been murdered. He says, “The first time I encountered Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith outside the terrace of a club (Chandler, 3).” In this statement, Marlowe explains in an unusual opening line that establishes the center of the story filled with conflict, wealth, and trouble. After Marlowe helps Lennox, he finds out that he is married to a daughter of a tycoon in LA, and he is on the run following her murder. Marlowe is sure that Terry Lenox did not kill his wife; therefore, before he finds the truth, he encounters many stiffs among them rich quacks, gangsters, reporters, and beautiful women who all are connected to the killings of Sylvia Lennox.

Milda also presents that sexuality is the forefront of most relationships and characters in hardboiled detective fiction. In the Long Goodbye, for instance, the narrator referring to Eileen Wade, says, “She sat down and pulled the gloves under the strap of her bag and looked at him with a smile so gentle and pure, and thanked him. He stared as he was damned paralyzed by it. She caught me looking at her (Chandler, 89).” This statement reveals the first impression and attraction that Marlowe felt towards Eileen Wade. It shows the power of women’s sexuality and how it made men weak. In the story, the narrator describes Eileen as beautiful, and she even caught Marlowe staring at her. Taking advantage of her beauty, she lures Marlowe into her mysterious and dark life to the point of destroying his reputation.