a) The dangers of excessive consumption of alcohol are displayed in The Long Goodbye through the actions and words of Roger Wade and Phillip Marlowe. Wade embodies the hopeless and cyclical boozehound, and Marlowe portrays the functioning alcoholic. Wade suffers from serious mood swings that result from his drinking. He often calls Marlowe seeking for his help, and afterwards shuffling him off. Wade calls Marlowe and says “I’m in bad shape, Marlowe” (Chandler 189). Later in the evening, Wade says to Marlowe, “Shove it, Jack” (Chandler 211). Naturally he never means it, and frequently changes his mind. His oscillating emotions take a huge toll at both his writing and his relationship with his wife. It is not known if Wade did in fact throw Eileen down the stairs in his home, but his other actions in his home show the danger in his actions. He falls over and hurts himself, and later tries to kill himself. Marlowe is a functional drunk, who is in certain way even worse. Everyone knows that Wade is a struggling alcoholic, and as a result they treat him as one. However, Marlowe is off the radar in his circle. No one seems to realize how much he is drinking, not even himself. He talks about his hangover and how brutal it is, and yet continues drinking. He spirals into a cyclical routine of excessive drinking and fightin his hangover by drinking more. After getting drunk at Wade’s house, he woke up in the morning and “mixed a tall cold one this time and sat in an easy chair with my shirt open” (Chandler 221). No one seemed to notice that he was in danger, and therefore he stayed oblivious. Sometimes he was saying that he should not be drinking, but then proceeded doing it anyways.
b) Throughout the story Marlowe shows that he follows a strict moral code through the things he says and does. Marlowe looks for true justice only, and he is always willing to help people who seek help. Early on in the novel, this is seen in his willingness to drive Terry Lennox to Tijuana without a need for persuasion. It happens later again when he goes to Wade’s house in the early hours of the morning to help him. He always cares of others more than about himself, as it is described when he “went over the pass on wings and hit Ventura Boulevard with the light against me and made a left turn anyhow and dodged between trucks” (Chandler 189). Marlowe does not like to be an adulterer. Although he does kiss Eileen outside her house in a snap reaction, he avoids upsetting a party guest by taking his wife when she wants him too. She wants to take an advantage of him, and all Marlowe can say in response is “don’t rely on me” ((Chandler 179). Oddly enough, however, Marlowe does not care what he does or whom he does it to. He is afraid of no one and he maintains this even facing powerful people like Mendy Menedez. Menendez dismisses something that Marlowe says, and Marlowe “hit(s) him as hard as I could in the middle of his belly”(Chandler 79).
c) Examples of idiosyncratic figurative language in the novel:
“I went inside and shut the door and left him to his flying lesson. Birds have to learn too” (Chandler 109). Marlowe has just had an encounter with Eileen, in which he says that she needs to be more attentive to Roger’s drinking. Like the bird, Eileen needs to learn that she must take action to save her husband from himself.
“He was as lithe as a whip” (Chandler 119). This simile is used to describe Earl, which, based on later descriptions, is very accurate and paints a good picture of Earl.
“Goodbye, Doctor. My heart bleeds for you” (Chandler 125). Marlowe says this to Dr. Verringer, and he is either being sarcastic or hopes to get a rise out of Verringer, which he does, and Verringer reveals that he might be part of why Wade is missing.