Equal Opportunity Summary
by Walter Mosley

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Equal Opportunity Summary

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

In “Equal Opportunity,” ex-con Socrates Fortlow, the main character in the linked stories that make up the novel Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, tries for a job at a supermarket miles from his home in Watts. Twenty-seven years ago, Socrates killed two of his friends with his big hands. He travels to Venice Boulevard to apply for a job because he knows that he is considered a bum at the stores in his neighborhood, where he has been selling empty bottles to support himself. At the supermarket, he refuses to accept that his failure to have a phone, according to the white manager, disqualifies him from a job. He comes back four days in a row to see if he has been hired. He is told if he comes back on Monday, the police will be called.

Socrates returns on Monday and explains to two private security officers that he has not threatened anyone and feels he should be given a fair chance at a job. Socrates says that if the manager is scared, it is because she has not treated him fairly. The security officers decide he should get a job at the Santa Monica store since the manager there wants to “give guys a chance.” Back in his neighborhood, Socrates and his friends celebrate his new job.


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Bunyan, Scott. “No Order from Chaos: The Absence of Chandler’s Extra-legal Space in the Detective Fiction of Chester Himes and Walter Mosley.” Studies in the Novel 35 (Fall, 2003): 339-365.

Carby, Hazel V. “Figuring the Future in Los(t) Angeles.” Comparative American Studies: An International Journal 1 (March, 2003): 19-34.

Chandler, Raymond. The Simple Art of Murder. Boston: Houghton, 1950.

Geherin, David. The American Private Eye: The Image in Fiction. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1985.

Gray, W. Russel. “Hard-Boiled Black Easy: Genre Conventions in A Red Death.”

(The entire section is 425 words.)