The Maltese Falcon Social Concerns

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In The Maltese Falcon, Hammett shifts locale from Red Harvest's (1929) small Western mining town to the cosmopolitan city of San Francisco.

Once more, though, it can be argued that the setting represents Hammett's view of American society. The comparatively smaller cast of characters concentrates and sharpens his view. Effie Perrine is the only decent person in the book, and she is shown as a hopeless romantic idealist, incapable of distinguishing between reality and illusion, between good and evil. The rest of the city is full of misfits, crooks, adulterers, thieves, deviants, and murderers.

Until readers are persuaded to the contrary at the end of the novel, even Sam Spade is less than a desirable character, the prime suspect in the recent murder of his partner in detection, Miles Archer. The single-minded quest for the jewel-encrusted statuette known as the Maltese Falcon might be Hammett's way of propounding his...

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This section contains 193 words
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Buy The Maltese Falcon Study Guide
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