Are there homosexual characters in Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon?
Fecha de publicación
Spanish Association for American Studies (SAAS)
LINDER, Daniel. “Are there homosexual characters in Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon?” V Conferencia de la Spanish Association for American Studies (SAAS) Salamanca 4-6 de abril de 2001. pp. 265-274
Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon (1930) contains three characters, Joel Cairo, Wilmer Cook and Caspar Gutman, whose sexual identity has been defined as either homosexual or heterosexual, depending on how certain passages are read. Focusing mostly on Wilmer, a young hired gun in the employ of Caspar Gutman, and on Joel Cairo, an effeminate foreigner who joins forces with Gutman, critics have tended to consider all three of them homosexual characters. There is strong textual evidence that Joel Cairo and Wilmer Cook are homosexual, but for Caspar Gutman, similar direct textual evidence is lacking. In spite of this textual evidence, critics often hedge their affirmations about these characters and their homosexuality. Recently, Delaney has advocated that Wilmer (but not Cairo) is a heterosexual character. In this paper, I will explore the text of the novel and recent scholarship on it examining all possible references to the sexual identity of Joel Cairo, Wilmer Cook and Caspar Gutman. I will conclude that Hammet intentionally made these characters and their sexual identity ambiguous. Because of that, there can be no definitive answer to the question, as there is textual evidence to support both types of critics. Hammett’s subversive efforts have been successful, since we are still able to discuss the significance of his novel and its characters more than half a century after he wrote The Maltese Falcon.