Walsh: “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”
This line from the final scene, which Walsh speaks in a sympathetic voice as he leads Jake away from Evelyn’s dead body, sums up one of the film’s major themes. Throughout the film, several characters suggest that Chinatown is a place to be avoided at all costs. Chinatown is a place where corruption is the status quo and where regular people are forced into silence. Walsh suggests that Evelyn and Jake knew the rules when they went to Chinatown and should have known the story would end as it did. The best Jake can do is regret his foolish mistake and leave as soon as possible.
The spirit of Chinatown is everywhere in Los Angeles. The city’s subtly treacherous new chief engineer, Russ Yelburton, is a fair match for Chinatown’s more openly corrupt district attorney. Evelyn Mulwray is just as vulnerable to abuse by powerful men as was the woman Jake once knew in Chinatown.