Throughout history, greed has been a prevalent factor in motivating humans to commit cruel crimes. Horrific events like the Holocaust, the Cultural Revolution, and The Trail of Tears all involved leaders who prioritized power, money, and land over basic human rights. This concept is further displayed in the James M. Cain 1935 classic noir novel Double Indemnity through the actions of the main character Phyllis Nirdlinger. Phyllis values materialistic items and money which causes her to murder ruthlessly. In Double Indemnity, Cain uses characterization of Phyllis Nirdlinger to convey how greed can be a motivator for inhumane actions in even those who appear to have compassion.
Cain begins the novel portraying Phyllis 's outward appearance as kind and caring. For instance, Cain describes Phyllis 's look, he writes, "She was thirty-one or –two, with a sweet face, light blue eyes, and dusty blonde hair"(5). As the quote depicts, Phyllis seems like a typical, loving housewife. She welcomes Huff into her home and continues to treat him with the utmost respect. In addition, Phyllis invites Huff over to her home to discuss the insurance policy, she says, "Oh have some tea. I like tea. It makes a break in the afternoon"(10). This considerate offering displays Phyllis as a friendly individual, further developing her kind facade. This action is simple, but it helps make Huff feel comfortable talking with Phyllis which is essential later in the novel. The