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The Maltese Falcon: Five Questions

last updated: 31 March 2019 (approximate reading time: 2 minutes; 226 words)

The Maltese Falcon is a classic noir movie based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett.

Seemingly a chase for a valuable statue, when looked at through the lens of five questions the story can be seen as a quest for justice.

question one: Who is the Protagonist?

Sam Spade, the hard-bitten private detective played by Humphrey Bogart.

question two: What Does Spade Want?

Spade wants to find who killed his partner, Miles Archer, and to bring the murderer to justice.

It seems that finding Maltese Falcon is Spade’s aim, but the Falcon is a tool Spade uses to stay close to the people he suspects of being involved in Archer’s murder.

question three: What is Keeping Spade From Getting What He Wants?

Spade doesn’t know who killed Archer and he is wrapped up in the hunt for the Falcon with the danger that brings.

question four: What Must Spade Sacrifice to Get What He Wants?

Spade must sacrifice the wealth the Falcon may bring and the promises that Ruth Wonderly/Brigid O’Shaughnessy offers.

He must also get over his natural antagonism to his late partner, Miles Archer, whose death he does not mourn.

question five: What is At Stake?

If Spade cannot bring the murderer to justice, then his view of the world—and everything that means for his own self-image—will be permanently fractured.

Filed under

Category: story
Author: Dashiell Hammett
People: Sam Spade   Humphrey Bogart  
Tags: five questions   The Maltese Falcon