After many American lives were lost during World War II, people wanted to forget this traumatic event. Because of this crime writer did not portray their protagonists as traumatized veterans lost to war. Chandler’s crime fiction involves flawed protagonists which reached a new level of authenticity that people experience in the world. It inspired post-Vietnam war writer to successfully without fear articulate the anger towards the government and society.
Raymond Chandler provided an important bridge between crime fictions early themes and the post World War II consumerist glut. Detectives in this era were more openly flawed and confronted personal troubles head-on, portraying the heart of contemporary society. The traumatic consequences of warfare compelled contemporary writers to expose the hidden trauma and display their anger and resentment which reached a level of authenticity Chandler had.
Brutality have always been essential aspects of crime fiction, Chandler created a writing style in which violence symbolizes the disgustingness of society. “‘Geiger got his hooks into your sister, which isn’t very difficult, and got some notes from her and tried to blackmail your father with them, in a nice way. Eddie Mars was behind Geiger, protecting him and using him for a cat’s paw.
Your father sent for me instead of paying up, which showed he wasn’t scared about anything. Mars wanted to know that. He had something on you and he wanted to know if he had it on the General too. If he had, he would collect a lot of money in a hurry. If not, he would have to wait until you got your share of the family fortune, and in the meantime be satisfied with whatever spare cash he could take away from you across the roulette table.
Geiger was killed by Owen Taylor, who was in love with your silly little sister and didn’t like the kind of games Geiger played with her… as an attempt to divert suspicion that Eddie had killed your husband or had him killed’” (Chandler 223-224). All these events encountered in this novel reveals a dog-eat-dog world with a rotten and corrupt core. While post-Vietnam writers also utilized this, the key difference is the detailed and savage violence, which has significantly altered the tone of the genre in the wake of the Vietnam War.
This has shifted onto the protagonists, imperfect characters, that are as likely to commit more violence then the criminal. Their traumatizing experiences helped shape their individual sense of reason. Because of this era’s corrupt politics, Chandler was able to create imperfect and paranoid characters. “I was wearing my powder blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them” (Chandler 1).
This displays the cynicism of 1930s America because Marlowe was dressed us as a sign of respect when he is about to enter a house that is worth millions. Money equates to respect because of its scarcity and the Great Depression during this time period. These war themes have made Chandler’s work so different from his peers that critics failed to recognize his significance within crime fiction.
What made Chandler’s work so appealing and relevant to the writers of the Vietnam era was the themes and authenticity of detectives with post war traumatic suffering they themselves would take to heart in their own works. By laying the foundation of the hard-boiled detective, Chandler breaks down the generic limitations of crime fiction and create a style that holds a vital position in literary history.