The Characters

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

The protagonist, Easy Rawlins, has no family connections and is largely self-educated. He is a former Texas factory worker who has moved to California in part to escape the influence of his friend Mouse. When he is fired from his aircraft factory job after a racial incident with his foreman, however, Easy accepts the job of searching for Daphne Monet; ironically, the danger into which the search leads Easy causes him to contact Mouse and ask for his help. Easy’s is a divided character. Part of him wants to pursue the American Dream (he has recently bought a house, and he undertakes detective work in order to pay his mortgage), and this side of him finds the confusion and risk of his new job unsettling. He is haunted by his World War II combat experiences in Europe, and he becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the violent situations into which he is repeatedly drawn. Another side of Easy’s nature, however, enjoys his new lifestyle. Eventually, Easy discovers that detective work provides him with an independence and self-confidence that he has not previously had.

Easy’s friend and partner, Mouse, is shadowy and mysterious. It is known that he has killed his stepfather in a dispute over an inheritance, but little more is revealed about his past. Although he is violent and unpredictable, he values loyalty and friendship.

Dewitt Albright, the shady attorney who hires Easy, is less ambiguously presented. Like Mouse, he is unpredictable and dangerous, but he lacks Mouse’s loyalty and other values. Albright seems to have no morals or scruples.

Daphne Monet, the “devil in a blue dress,” is mysterious and elusive. Her real name is Ruby Hanks, and her mother is African American. As Daphne Monet, however, she passes for white. She leaves her home in Louisiana and the identity of Ruby Hanks to escape the memory of an incestuous relationship with her father. She has so perfected her escape from the past that she is described as a “chameleon.” She is able not only to assume different racial identities but also to become radically different personalities.

Devil in a Blue Dress Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Ezekial “Easy” Rawlins

Ezekial “Easy” Rawlins (ee-ZEE-kee-uhl), a factory worker turned detective. He is originally from Houston, Texas, but moved to California in search of a wartime factory job and to escape the influence of his friend Raymond Alexander. He has no family connections and is largely self-educated. Fired from his job in an aircraft factory after an incident with his foreman involving race, Easy is drawn into a moneymaking scheme by a friend. He is attempting to live the American Dream; he has managed to buy a home and now must take on unfamiliar work in order to pay his mortgage. He is haunted by his combat experiences in Europe and is increasingly uncomfortable with the violent situation into which he is drawn. Eventually, Rawlins discovers that detective work provides him with an independence and self-confidence that he had not experienced previously.

Daphne Monet

Daphne Monet (moh-NAY), a companion to rich businessmen and crime figures; she is the devil in a blue dress of the title. Her real name is Ruby Hanks, and her mother is African American. As Daphne Monet, she passes as white. She leaves Lake Charles, Louisiana, and the identity of Ruby Hanks to escape the memory of an incestuous relationship with her father. She has so perfected her escape from the past that she is described as a chameleon. She is able to assume different racial identities and even radically different personalities.

Raymond “Mouse” Alexander

Raymond “Mouse” Alexander, Rawlins’ friend and partner from Houston. He appears in Los Angeles, having been notified that Rawlins needs his help. Little is known about Mouse’s past, other than that he killed his stepfather to acquire inheritance money that he had been denied. Mouse is violent and unpredictable but values loyalty and friendship.

Dewitt Albright

Dewitt Albright, a lawyer turned “criminal handyman.” Like Mouse, he is violent and unpredictable. He seems to have no morals or scruples. He hires Rawlins to help him find Daphne Monet.

Devil in a Blue Dress Characters

Devil in a Blue Dress has a large cast, but it is Easy (Ezekiel) Rawlins from whose perspective the story unfolds. Easy was orphaned...

(The entire section is 886 words.)