Example Of Book Review On Critical Reading Response: The Maltese Falcon
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‘The Maltese Falcon’ is a typical depiction of genre convention. The story follows the crime and mystery pattern and absorbs the reader into it. The genre convention used in the story complies with the underpinning themes of corruption, deceit, suspense, mystery. The darkness and murky atmosphere created by the author makes all the readers ready for the proceeding story. In the novel ‘The Maltese Falcon’, the author has used genre convention frequently to give the reader the effect of a crime suspense story. The genre conventions used in the story has given the story a real taste of crime story. The novel has used the construct of crime stories and extends it to make the story more interesting.
In the start, the novel the author describes Samuel Spade. He typically constructs a genre of strong, mysterious, confident, and strong individual about the protagonist of the story. The author called him ‘blond Satan.' Further in the scene, the author describes Spade that he was six feet tall with a ‘grey coat’ fitting very well. Detectives are often portrayed as a mysterious, tall man, with learning but powerful individuals. They are considered to be intelligent and agile from the very start of the story. Dashiell Hammett also constructed the character of Samuel Spade with the same features the genre conventions for a detective in a crime story. While in the same scene he constructs the image of Effie Perine-his secretary as a ‘lanky sunburned girl’. Her eyes were described as ‘brown’ and ‘playful’. The genre convention about the secretaries is often the same in novels. They tend to be faithful to the boss and often, bosses talk with them frankly. In the scene, the secretary informs Spade that a lady wants to meet you which he allows to come. The precarious attitude is attributed to the detectives normally which is maintained in the scene by Hammett, as the character meets with the lady. In the scene, the lady (Miss Wonderful) tries to say something but hesitates. In order to depict her as confused and hesitated (which she was not, it was a disguise to deceive Spade), the writer says that her eyes were ‘uneasy’. The Author also stated that she ‘sat on the very edge of chair’, and ‘her feet were flat on the floor as if she were about to rise’ (Hammett, Ch. I-Spade Archer, pp. 6-8).
The novelist has used the genre convention in a way to comply with the message of the text. As an introductory part, it introduces us not only with the Spade, but with the ‘detective Spade’. Similar depictions of genre conventions are made by an author in several other scenes. Such innovative of genres have imparted an impressive impression on the imagery of the reader. The readers take what the author wanted to thank him. Thus in the scene, the novelist wanted create the impression of a genre with respect to the story, which affects and inspires the reader. It makes the reader think what the writer of the story want to make him think. The depiction of Spade- the protagonist and the secretary is typical, and the details of the scene all indicate the depiction of the genre. Hammett had the great sense of giving detail of the story in the way to inculcate the reader the genre of a novel without the knowledge of the reader. The scene description in the above-discussed scene is a depiction of the author’s use of the genre to create an imagery of a crime suspense story. The description of the detective Spade, his secretary, their relationship, and the most surprising lady, i.e., Miss Wonderful, her appearance and hesitation and fear before Spade put the elements of suspense. The character of a Lady is depicted as a red herring. The description of the start of the story sets the mood of the reader for the plot of the story, which revolves around crimes, deceit, lust for power and money.
In the scene of Chapter XVII Saturday Night, when Spade searches for the keys for 26; he finds that it might be at the ‘Number 31’, the author describes 31 Number was a square ‘grey’ house. The scene further explains the phenomenon of light and dark shades of light through downstairs-windows. On giving Bell, ‘a dark-haired’ young girl appears. She calls her papa, who is a ‘red-faced’ individual with ‘bald’ head and big ‘mustache’. The author further tells us that, the plump man was ‘doubtful’ and then ‘more doubtful’ when he knows about the fact that Spade had a flashlight in order search in the darkness. Thus, the man ‘cleared his throat uneasily’ and ‘crumpled’ the newspaper. When Spade gives the plump man his card, the man’s ‘face and voice were eager’ and asks that he will join Spade. The plump man returns with a ‘brass key attached to a black and red tag’ (Hammett, Ch. XVII Saturday Night, pp 178-179).
a. Dark and light interfaces
b. Story plot
c. Human behavior and responses
The darkness and shadows imply the genre convention of crime and dark world of criminals. The aim of the scene was to create suspense and keep the attention of the reader in a continuum. For that purpose, he uses darkness, light through windows, a hesitant behavior of man, and his inner ruffled behavior to develop genre convention of a suspense scene. The scene depicts dark and light effects with shadows giving a murky look in the room, through stairs, and in the house.
The story of the novel implies the genre convention in the story to impart the impression of reality, suspense, and red herrings. The author goes into the detail of the scenes and describes every aspect of it in order to create and maintain the savor of a crime suspense story. The light and dark interfaces, along with suspicions created by human responses and attitudes are frequently used in the novel to get an attention of the reader towards the central theme of the story. Every detail in the scene illustrates the underpinning suspense. The Number 26 and 31, instead of addresses and names creates suspense in the plot of the novel.
The description of the man is given in suspicious way to enhance the genre effect. He is shown as a ‘plump’, ‘red-faced’, ‘’bald head’ and with a ‘big mustache’. These descriptions make the man suspicious. The hesitation shown by the plump man in his actions such as, confusion, trembling thoughts and actions, crumbling of newspaper and his request to join Spade to keep him with his journey all are used as red herrings by the author. The genre convention depictions in the scene enhance the effects of suspense and make it more natural. The detail description of scenes depicts the imagination of the writer and its depth in creating crime scenes.
As the story is about crime like deception, murder, and theft, the genre of convention plays a vital role to construct the desired impression on the reader. Moreover, the effect of suspense that the scene depicts is augmented when it is supplemented with genre convention. The murkiness and gloomy environment, the outlook of character presented by the author and their suspicious behavior, always serve as depictions of suspicions, crime and also red herrings. It is sometimes true that in our social setting, joyful celebrations are celebrated in a bright, colorful ambiance while crimes are carried out in the darkness. It gives the natural instinct that darkness is linked with the crimes. Genre convention in a suspense movie, just reiterates the conviction of the reader and exploits it gets his attention in the novel.
Hammett, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon. London: Orion, 2014.
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