Character, Setting, Problem

Mark Troy

The Maltese Falcon opens with a quick description of Sam Spade (“a blond satan” and “steep, rounded slope of his shoulders”), followed by the arrival of a visitor. The visitor is Miss Wonderly. We get a brief description of her, some telling details of Spade’s office (the limp cigarettes in the ash tray and the flecks of ash on his desk) and then Miss Wonderly begins to explain the problem that brought her to Spade. All of this occurs quickly. By the end of the second page, we have characters, setting, and problem.

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