What I found interesting in this book is Chapter four, page 35, the description of conversation between Samuel Spade and Brigid O’Shaughnessy. “I haven’t lived a good life,” she cried. “I’ve been bad – worse than you could know – but I’m not all bad. Look at me, Mr.Spade. You know I’m not all bad, don’t you? You can see that, can’t you? Then can’t you trust me a little?” Here, Brigid used repeating rhetorical questions to ask Spade to believe what she said and keep begging him to help her. The repeat highlights her eagerness and helplessness. And in the later part, she said “I know this isn’t fair of me. But be generous, Mr. Spade, don’t ask me to be fair. You’re strong, you’re resourceful, you’re brave. You can spare me some of that strength and resourcefulness and courage, surely. Help me, Mr. Spade.” Here, the author creates the strand of Spade’s capability. As the protagonist, Spade has got all features that indicate his masculine identity: callous, resolute, courageous. Meanwhile the characteristic of Brigid is quite sensitive, helpless, self-interested and also mysterious – which is a typical femme fatale in noir film. I think the whole passage aims at building a contrast between powerful male character and timid female character; in that way it can help emphasize the personality of them. A big strong man and a weak beautiful lady, forming an expressive scene, imagine what sparkle they might ignite.
Spade has always reacted as indifferent and ambiguous in the whole case so far. Yet according to Spade’s response: “You won’t need much of anybody’s help. You’re good. You’re very good”, we can see that he already caved in to her feminine charm more or less because this sentence is more than a comfort. I mean who can resist the incessant imploring from such a gorgeous beauty? Brigid has successfully made the best use of her gender advantage to build a lovingly pathetic image, therefore touching the softest part inside Spade’s heart. Also we need to notice that it’s the first time that Brigid mentioned she had been worse than we could know but we still don’t have certain idea about what she had done before, where the author leaves us a big suspense. Though Brigid seems to be very weak and incompetent now, I am looking forward to finding out her real characteristic hiding under her innocent surface. From my perspective, this passage may imply the power femme fatale – here refers to Brigid O’Shaughnessy – exerts over the hero – Samuel Spade – in future content. “a mysterious and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, often leading them into compromising, dangerous and deadly situations”, Brigid will “try to achieve her hidden purpose by using feminine wiles such as beauty, charm and sexual allure.”(Wikipedia entry: femme fatale )