The Big Sleep Themes

The Big Sleep Themes


One of the main themes in the novel is corruption. The action takes place in the 1930s, a time dominated by violence, crime and deviant behaviors. Many people became rich and those who had old money would do anything to make sure that they do not lose their influence and way of life. The novel presents the struggle for power and how it destroys those who get involved in shady business.

Reason to kill

The novel presents a variety of characters, all involved in some way or another in different crimes and illegal activities. But the narrator distinguishes between them, separating those who are pure evil from those who are forced by the circumstances to act in a certain way. Mars and Carmen deserve no sympathy from the reader because they act in a certain way because they are either deranged or want to fulfill their own selfish desires. Other characters however, have been dragged into the criminal life by the others and try to make the best of the situation they find themselves trapped in. The distinction between the two groups of criminals is one of the main themes in the novel and it makes the reader be more reluctant to label someone as being good or evil.


In the 1930’s, everyone was bent on earning as much money as possible, be it honestly or in a shady way. The Great Depression changed the way people thought about life and living, for many, became a struggle that they had to go through every day. Money became synonym with power because if someone had money, that person could live a relatively comfortable life, without fearing tomorrow. And so, the struggle for money and the lengths to which someone is willing to go to obtain money is a central theme in the novel.

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