The Big Sleep Historical Context

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While Chandler was penning his novel in the late 1930s, the United States was attempting to recover from the depression that had economically devastated the country since 1929. Marlowe, who charged millionaire General Sternwood twenty-five dollars a day plus expenses, was not only working, he was making well over the average national salary, which stood at $1,368. Unemployment during the 1930s reached a high of 25%. To help alleviate the economic suffering of many Americans, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act and the Wagner Act in 1935, ensuring the elderly an income, and ensuring workers the right to unionize, respectively.

Farmers were especially hard hit during the 1930s, and many from Midwestern "Dust Bowl" states such as Oklahoma and Missouri (so named because of the drought and dust storms that hit that area in the 1930s) moved to California hoping for work and a better life. On the outskirts of...

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This section contains 515 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Big Sleep Study Guide
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The Big Sleep from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.