Racial Issues of 1948 - Devil in a Blue Dress

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                                Racial Issues of 1948

One of the main themes in the novel Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley is racial prejudice. The author presents the reality of 1948, when the United States was legally segregated into black and white communities and when people divided themselves into lower and upper classes. The main character in the book, Easy Rawlins, represents the ordinary lower class African American worker, who is confronted by limited opportunities and little money to live on. Throughout the novel, Easy Rawlins happens to experience firsthand the blatant racism prevailing in 1948.

In the very first moment of the novel, Easy starts talking about his experiences with white people. When Mr. Albright walks in to the Joppy’s bar, Easy feels “a thrill of fear,” but as he says later on “that [goes] away quickly because [he] was used to white people by 1948” (Mosley 45).  Easy connects this situation to his experiences during the World War II. He recalls “I killed enough blue-eyed young men to know that they were just as afraid to die as I was” (45). Therefore, Easy connects the problem of race to the “blue-eyed” Nazis and their mission of achieving an Aryan society (45). Easy’s regular racial references to the World War II imply that the segregation present in the United States in 1948 is comparable to Hitler's Third Reich. 

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In chapter eight, white teenage boys try to humiliate Easy and call him "nigger" and “black boy” (99). Mr. Albright, just like any white men in 1940’s who wanted to express racial dominance, calls Easy a “boy” (147). Also, because Mr. Albright hires Easy, he believes he owns him: “You take my money and you belong to me…We all owe out something, Easy.  When you owe out then you're in debt and when you're in debt then you can't be your own man. That's capitalism” (147-148). Albright uses racial terms pretty easily, and because Easy happens to be a black ...

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*** 3 STARS This is an interesting essay to read and the writer clearly understands the many aspects of racism in 1940s America. PEA used effectively throughout and some perceptive analysis.