about 'rubber'

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french - france
Hi everybody. I have a doubt about a sentence in 'The Big Sleep' from Raymond Chandler, chapter 26 at the beginning :
In a shadowy angle against the scribbled wall a pouched ring of pale rubber had fallen and had not been disturbed.
(Private detective Marlowe is in the fire stairs of the infamous Fulwider Building, where some bums sleep and eat. He finds many little objects on the floor.)
Here is my question : does anybody find another meaning than 'condom' for the word 'rubber' in this sentence? Could it be an item that had a use for the building, something that would have been fixed on the wall and would have fallen?
I have a problem because I use the 'Cassell's dictionary of slang' by Jonathon Green, in which the meaning 'condom' for 'rubber' is described as being born during the 40's, and 'The big sleep' is from 1939.
  • Barque

    A rubber as in a condom is countable. Here's he's using it uncountably.

    A pouched ring of pale rubber = A pouched ring made of pale rubber.

    It might have turned out to be a condom but at the moment of narration, he doesn't seem to have identified it as such.

    Also, as you said, "rubber" meaning "condom" does seem to be a more recent word than from the 1930s.


    Senior Member
    British English
    He's not calling it a "rubber". He's describing it. I read it as a condom. However, 1939 is a very small way from the 1940s. Spoken slang predates written slang.


    It is probably a condom.:) The character in the book is just not calling it one. Perhaps he hadn't realised what it was, or had realised but was merely describing it.
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