Devil in a Blue Dress

Devil in a Blue Dress Summary and Analysis of Chapters 27-28


Chapter 27

Easy and Daphne go to Chow's Chow, a Chinese diner run by a man named Mr. Ling. Easy thinks that he might love Daphne. She asks him if he has ever been to the zoo. He says he hasn't, but Daphne explains that one can learn from caged animals. She remembers the first time her father took her to the zoo in New Orleans, where she was born. It was her fourteenth birthday. She watched a spider monkey swing across the ceiling like a crazed person. She recalls, "I felt just like that ape. Swinging wildly from one wall to another; pretending I had somewhere to go. But I was trapped in my life just like that monkey." Daphne liked watching the birds and other animals who "were more free." The last cage they visited held the zebras. Daphne held her father's hand tightly while they watched two zebras have sexual intercourse.

When they returned to the car, Daphne's father kissed her "on the lips, like lovers do." Then she cradled his head to console her father, who was disgusted with himself. Daphne's father raped her throughout that year. But Daphne thinks of the incest fondly, as though she and her father were legitimate lovers. When she senses Easy's disgust, she says, "He bought me presents and gave me money, but I'd've loved him anyway."

After a while, Daphne's father left and never returned. Daphne explains that her father had to leave, because that is what people must do when they "know somebody that well." It is the same reason she left Mr. Carter. Easy finds himself jealous. He says, "I hated Carter then. I wanted to know Daphne like he did. I wanted her, even if knowing her meant that I couldn't have her." As they return to Primo's, Easy decides that he will forget his attraction to Daphne and turn her over to Mr. Carter. When they reach the room, Mr. Albright is waiting for them. Easy reaches for his gun, but he is thrown to the floor when "an explosion [goes] off in [his] head."

Chapter 28

While he is unconscious, Easy dreams that he is back in World War II. He is on a battleship in the middle of D-Day, loading anti-aircraft shells into cannons when Mouse pulls him out of the line and tells him that "ain't no reason t'die in a white man's war!" Easy is patriotic but believes Mouse. Yet before he can make a move, a bomb hits the ship and they begin to sink. Easy is thrown overboard and starts to drown. Easy awakens to the cold bucket of water that Primo is pouring over his face.

Primo tells Easy that Joppy and Mr. Albright arrived at the house about three hours earlier, but he does not remember seeing Daphne. Easy calls for Mouse at Bula's, but learns that he left in the morning. Not knowing what else to do, Easy drives back into town. The voice in his head tells him to be brave, to find Daphne and shoot Joppy and Mr. Albright. When he cannot find the two men at their places, Easy calls information and finds Mr. Albright's home address in Malibu.


In Chapter 27, Mosley brings his use of animal symbolism and perversity together with Daphne's recounting of her childhood sexual abuse. Even before her father began to abuse her, Daphne identified with the trapped ape in his cage, being ridiculed by those below. But she clarifies that she did not feel sympathy for the animal, only for herself. She recounts, "I cried and my father took me out of there. He thought that I was just sensitive to that poor creature. But I didn't care about a stupid animal." Easy does not know it at the time, Daphne felt this way partially because she is mixed-race and therefore fascinating and even threatening to people.

Watching the zebras having sexual intercourse awakens a dangerous and perverse animal nature in Daphne's father. Mosley's writing is rich and raw to match the passion that the scene awakens in the man. Just as Teran keeps his Mexican boy in a storage space in his car, Daphne's father kept her like a pet of whom he could take advantage. At the same time, her father was all Daphne had. She clung to him like the Mexican boy did to the abusive Teran and defends him even all these years later.

Hearing Daphne's sad story makes Easy want her even more. Whereas before his greatest longing was for the conventional, a house and garden, now he longs more than anything for this twisted, shape-shifting woman. When Daphne tells Easy that Mr. Carter knows her better than anyone, he says jealously, "I hated Carter then. I wanted to know Daphne like he did. I wanted her, even if knowing her meant that I couldn't have her." In capturing his heart, Daphne undoes some of Easy's hard-won independence. Yet he quickly regains his instinct for survival and decides to betray her whereabouts to Mr. Carter. His focus shifts back to money, which he justifies by claiming, "Daphne was too deep for me."

Because the novel is told in first person, the end of Chapter 28 is mysterious. We know only what Easy knows. Therefore, we do not know whether he has been shot, pistol whipped, or otherwise disabled. We know only that "an explosion [goes] off in [his] head" and that he passes out on the floor. The limitations of first-person narrative allow Mosley to withhold tantalizing information from the reader, who feels as though he is walking in the hero's shoes.

In Chapter 28, we again see how Easy's experiences as a soldier shape his understanding of fear and violence. While he is unconscious, he dreams that he is back in World War II, but the scene represents his current situation. When Mouse advises him not to die for white men's advancement, Easy's conscience is telling him that it is not worth dying to get Mr. Carter what he wants. But it is too late for Easy to save himself as the ship begins to sink, just as Easy fears that it is too late for him to extricate himself from the mystery. Now that he has taken himself to the very heart of the mystery, into Daphne Monet's very arms, he has no choice but to barrel forwards, just as he did in the war.