Devil in a Blue Dress

Devil in a Blue Dress Summary and Analysis of Chapters 23-24


Chapter 23

Mouse drives Easy to Portland Court, a small apartment complex near Joppy's place where Junior Fornay lives. When Junior refuses to open the door for Easy, Mouse steps up to intimidate him. After that, Junior lets them in and offers them beer and cigarettes. Easy shows Junior a Zapatas cigarette stub, which is what he picked up off the floor at Richard McGee's house. Easy says he knows the cigarette is Junior's. He is the only one cheap enough to smoke Zapatas and Easy can tell that the cigarette was dropped to the floor without being stamped out, as is Junior's habit. Easy asks Junior why he killed Richard, but Junior denies having done so. Easy says he knows that Hattie had him carry Richard home after he passed out drunk outside John's, and that Richard paid him for Coretta's name. He tells Junior about the fingerprint on the knife.

When Junior still refuses to confess, he has Mouse point the gun at Junior and threatens to kill him. Finally, Junior confesses that Richard paid him twenty-five dollars for information on Daphne and one hundred if he would drive him home and tell him how to find her. Junior did so, and told Richard that he last saw Daphne with Coretta James. Then Richard told Junior he would only pay him after he went to tell Frank Green that he had information about Daphne. Junior was enraged and killed Richard with a butcher knife. Disgusted, Easy leads Mouse out of Junior's place.

Chapter 24

Mouse and Easy go to visit Dupree at his hideout, his sister Bula's house. Dupree has two black eyes from his police interrogation. He is distraught over Coretta's pointless murder. At dinner, Mouse and Dupree get drunk on whiskey until the latter falls unconscious. Easy remains sober. When Easy tells Mouse he's drunk, Mouse pulls a pistol and threatens to kill Easy, only to pass out. Easy leaves Mouse and Dupree to their drunken slumber, takes one of Mouse's pistols and leaves a note saying he has done so.

Easy drives home and cautiously enters his house. Just as he gets to the door, Daphne calls. She tells him to meet her at a motel. Easy leaves a note for Mouse saying that he is staying with his friend, Primo. Mouse cannot read anything except his name, so Easy marks the letter with the words, "Raymond Alexander," and hopes he has Dupree with him when he finds the note. Easy drives to meet Daphne with newfound joy. He remembers, "I didn't know why I was going alone to get the girl in the blue dress. But for the first time in quite a while I was happy and expectant."


In Chapters 23 and 24, Easy's life begins more and more to resemble a detective's. He says in Chapter 18 that the two days when he sought Frank Green in alleys and bars "more than any other time that made [him] a detective." Indeed, Easy does his first bit of crime solving when he uses evidence from Richard McGee's murder scene to finger Junior as the man's killer. He even coolly orders Mouse to shoot Junior in order to intimidate him into confessing. When Mouse and Dupree fall asleep drunk, Easy borrows a gun and heads out to find Daphne, having turned from an ordinary man into a budding professional. Easy's lust for adventure is beginning to show itself as a talent that carries him through the other mysteries of the Easy Rawlins series.

Money surfaces again in these chapters as the mystery's motivating factor. Junior killed Richard McGee because of money. Junior turns on Richard in rage when the latter tells him he will pay him as promised only after he completes one more task. In essence, each murder victim in the novel dies because of money. Joppy seeks out Howard and Coretta because Daphne pays him to do so, and his visits escalate to murder. Daphne kills Teran because he is cruel, but at the core all her actions are motivated by her having stolen the thirty thousand dollars. In the end, Mouse kills Joppy and Mr. Albright so that he and Easy can have a share of that sum.

During his confession, Junior shows himself to be more of an animal than even Mouse. In fact, in the novel only Joppy manages to be more animalistic and brutal than Junior. It is Junior's animal nature that makes him so dangerous. But when given a chance to put Junior out as one might do to a rabid dog, Easy refuses. He sees Junior as a different kind of animal after his confession, a pathetic and bumbling one, "brave enough to stab an unarmed drunk, but Junior couldn't stand up for his crimes."

The interaction between Easy and Mouse when the latter is drunk represents their relationship as a whole. Before the scene, Easy mentions more than once that Mouse will kill him if he distrusts him or if enough money is involved. But up until this point, Mouse has been nothing but protective and helpful towards Easy. Yet when lubricated with alcohol, Mouse's true personality rears its head. Mouse is so drunk that he is barely aware that it is Easy he is threatening to shoot. Easy uses this to his advantage, making Mouse believe that he is aiming for someone else and that Easy is just talking him down. The scene is tragicomic, since Mouse's actions are almost cartoon-like in their extremeness. Yet at its heart, the two friends' interaction is simply tragic. Easy tells Mouse, "Let him live, Ray, an' he be scared'a you whenever you walk in the room." Even though Mouse thinks he is talking about someone else, this statement is true for Easy. He is scared of Mouse, even if he allows him to be his confidant and collaborator.