“Spade was immobile in his chair until the fat man, with a flourish and a bow and a jocular ‘Ah, sir, this kind of medicine will never hurt you!’ had handed him his refilled glass. Then Spade rose and stood close to the fat man, looking down at him, and Spade’s eyes were hard and bright. He raised his glass. His voice was deliberate, challenging: ‘Here’s to plain speaking and clear understanding.’”(108-109)
The dichotomy of Spade and the fat man’s behavior towards each other creates a greater understanding of Spade’s true self; he is almost always in control of his surroundings. Although it could be said that, in his interactions with the fat man, Spade is not in control of the situation, but the truth of the matter is that Spade is so far in his element that he was able to control the outcome of this encounter. Spade’s “hard and bright” eyes, in contrast to the fat man’s “caution”(108) filled eyes, give away the fact that he is the one with the upper hand, even if the fat man has the information that Spade desires. His “deliberate” and “challenging” toast is one example of how he is able to hold the power when confronted with a strange environment and someone of whom he has no prior knowledge. When Spade smashes the glass out of anger later on in the conversation, he seems to have forfeited his authority; this is not true, as he reveals his bluff in the elevator while leaving. Spade created this ruse in order to fool the fat man into believing that he (the fat man) had control, further demonstrating his mastery of everything around him. As a detective, Spade must always have a firm grasp on his surroundings and even the smallest slip up could throw a case astray; Spade’s ability to make cold, calculated decisions in times where he is not in control initially gives him the capability of turning any interaction seemingly weighted against him into a an ideal situation for him. It is this power that makes Spade a good detective; if he were not able to take charge in unsavory situations, then he would not have made it past Joel Cairo’s attempt to rob him. His command of his surroundings are the reason why he always comes out on top, because he does not allow anyone to dominate him.