1. Choose one scene in the novel and explain how and why you would’ve handled the situation differently than Marlowe. Please be sure to include a chapter number and page number.
2. Explain Carmen’s pathology. In other words, using details from the book plus your own inventiveness, you need to build her backstory. When we meet her in the novel she is a young woman, in her late teens or early twenties. Start her backstory when she is a child.
3. Describe Vivian’s life at age 40 in detail. Please compose this in Vivian’s voice, meaning, make this sound like an extended diary entry. And remember: in the story she was maybe twenty-five years old. For this question, she’s 40. Let’s hear what has been going on in her life in the decade or so after the story ends.
4. Describe Agnes’ new life elsewhere in detail. Please compose this in Agnes’ voice. Remember, Agnes has had a rough week: her boss was murdered, she lost her job, two of her lovers were murdered, she was arrested and released, a major Los Angeles gangster is looking for her, and then she leaves town with 200 bucks in a dead man’s car. What I want you to do is tell me where she went, how she’s trying to rebuild her life and how she feels about all of this.
5. What is the most likely cause of Owen Taylor’s death? This one is tricky because the book never conclusively answers this–now it’s your job. Write it like a forensic report and pick just ONE cause. Convince me.
6. Which character in the story do you most relate to–and why? The only rule here is that no one can pick my character, Larry Cobb.
7. Explain Marlowe’s “crush” on Mona Mars. In other words, according to how Marlowe evaluates people, what does Mona have that all the other women in the novel don’t?
8. What part of the mayhem in this story is Marlowe the most morally and legally responsible for?
9. Cast the film version of The Big Sleep. Be sure to include all major characters–and to justify your selection of each actor. The format for this is: Character’s name…..actor’s name…..why they would be perfect for the roll.
10. Consider each victim of murder in this novel, individually and in proper chronological sequence. Evaluate each one on the basis of moral justification. In other words, make an argument for or against the justification of each of these killings. I count 5 outright killings in the story. DO NOT INCLUDE OWEN TAYLOR–YOU DEAL WITH HIS DEATH SEPARATELY IN QUESTION 5.
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