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Reaction Paper 2

“’I won’t be able to wear an evening gown for two weeks, you brute.’ He grinned humbly, said, ‘I’m no damned good, darling,’ made an exaggerated bow, and went out again.” page 117

Throughout the course of the novel, The Maltese Falcon, there has been a wide array of action, drama and literary significance. One of the more interesting aspects of the novel is that the relationships within the story set a foundation for many other literary works, motion pictures and way of thinking. Noting the interactions between the strong detective, Sam Spade, and his various mistresses sets a foundation of the stereotype stating that men are men and cannot control their temper.

When Spade speaks with Effie Perine, his secretary and mistress, she tells him that Brigid O’Shaughnessy, another mistress, has gone missing. This unleashes Spade’s barbaric temper, which results in him clenching Effie’s arms with such force that it leaves a mark. When Spade finally returns to a calm and collected state, he has no shame in admitting: “I’m no damned good” (117). Despite the fact that what he is saying is true, he does not mean what he says. As he spoke the words, his actions did not match the severity of the situation. The moment he “grinned humbly” (117), the magnitude of the brutality completely diminished. His “exaggerated bow” (117) is rather comical after his smirk shortly preceding this action. The description placed on Sam Spade’s reaction parallels that of many men during this time and throughout more recent times. There is not a large concern for the woman involved; there is simply a statement of having “a most violent temper”(110) and being nothing more then a “brute” (117). A sarcastic statement followed by a comical gesture undermines the negativity in her speech. She is not taken seriously, her physical along with mental well being are not the priority, and instead, she is made to be over dramatic.

This idea of men not taking responsibility for their “violent temper” (110) lays a foundation for the way many people view men. In Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire, Stanley Kowalski plays a much harsher Sam Spade in regards to relationships. These portrayals of women being subjected to abuse date back nearly twenty years earlier to the time of The Maltese Falcon. Many women today still believe in this stereotype that men cannot control their inner “brute” (117).  This novel has the beginning of the incorporation of mental and physical abuse in a relatively modern day society.

~ by sackman on .

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