Critical Analysis of Walter Mosley
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you do or say may be used against you in a court of law.” Although no one wants to hear these words, they are words that are known across the country and are uttered every day. Walter Mosley takes this concept of “by the book” law enforcement and jazzes it up in The Devil in a Blue Dress, a novel based on Ezekiel Rawlins, a character stuck between the struggle of enforcing the law or engaging into criminal activity. Rawlins is content with life itself, as long as the whit majority does not surround him. Even though Mosley’s writing breaks color barriers, it also takes on racial motifs that emerged during post World War II Los Angles.
In Walter Mosley novels, the author tackles racism head on. As Mosley’s main character Ezekiel Rawlins, or better known by his nickname of Easy, takes his journeys through Los Angles, he notices people only by color and not by character or other traits. Easy says, “It’s not just that he was white but he wore an off-white linen suit and shirt with a Panama straw hat and bone shoes over flashing white silk socks” (Mosley 34), giving the impression that the man was not just white but he was real white. As Greg Tate states, “Mosley doesn’t just raise the race card to thicken the plot; he beats you down with spades, then rubs your nose in ethnic stool” (Tate 1). Mosley’s theme of racism relates to the times of post World War II, which is also the historical setting of Mosley’s novel. During post World War II times, people segregated themselves from each other. Mosley realizes the segregation and decides to bring in a white male, named Witt Albright, to add color to a black bar. Even if Albright had good intentions with everyone, Easy sees this as, “space suppose to be insulated for the most part from the intrusions of the white world” (Mosley 47), such as Dewitt Albright, even if “the odor of rotted meat filled every corner of the building” (Mosley 3). Mosley shows that Easy believes the “rotted meat filled” (Mosley 4) bar should not even be filled with the presence of Albright, who turns out to be the boss of Easy throughout the novel. This introduces a new theme that Mosley sought to establish in the novel, the cliché of the black man working for the white man
Albright is a white man, who through Mosley’s writing, gives the reader a view on a theme of white superiority in the work place. Albright meets Easy in the bar which Easy comments that Albrights grip was “like a snake coiling around my hand” (Mosley 18), which comments on Mosley relation of black male anxiety, in that black males want to be dominant over the white majority. Easy felt threatened by Albright’s handshake. Mosley exploration in racism is a theme writers continue to explore today.
The impact of Mosley’s literature on America is that his novels convey great literature in the mystery field to back up the historic writers as Rudolph Fisher and...