Devil in a Blue Dress

Devil in a Blue Dress Summary and Analysis of Chapters 5-6


Chapter 5

Easy sits at the bar next to his fifty-year-old friend, a slight man named Odell Jones. Odell is quiet and "God-fearing," and is a regular at John's Place. He likes to sit listening to the music and nursing one beer until the stroke of midnight, when he habitually leaves. He does not make an effort to speak to anyone unless they address him. Easy says hello to the other regulars, asking nondescriptly about Daphne, referring to her as "Delia or Dahlia or something." Just then, Easy's friend, Dupree, makes a loud entrance with his girlfriend, Coretta. She is coyly alluring in sharp contrast to big, loud, imposing Dupree. Dupree tells Easy that Benny, their Italian-American boss at Champion, wants Easy back. Easy agrees to come by on Friday. Then he, Odell, Dupree, and Coretta chat and drink bourbon on ice. Odell leaves at midnight as usual, and Dupree eventually passes out at three in the morning, to Coretta's disappointment. She quips: "He use' to play till the cock crowed, but that ole cock don't crow nearly so much no mo'."

Chapter 6

Easy and Coretta drag Dupree back from John's Place to Coretta's. He is staying with her because although Dupree is a first-class machinist with a good wage, he wasted away his money and was evicted from his apartment. After they settle Dupree into bed, Coretta seduces Easy, leaning close to him and exposing her breasts as they talk. Easy is reluctant to flirt in return because of his loyalty to Dupree, but eventually Coretta wins his attention by mentioning that she made friends with Daphne a week earlier when they were both out at a club called the Playroom. Easy and Coretta have passionate sex, during which she reveals the name of Daphne's boyfriend. The information disappoints Easy, but he promises Coretta ten dollars of his pay for her help. They continue to have sex until Dupree begins to stir in the next room, at which point Easy leaves.


Even though Odell is a minor character, he is an important foil for Easy and the world he inhabits. Easy describes him as, "... A quiet man and a religious man. His head was the color and shape of a red pecan. And even though he was a God-fearing man he'd find his way down to John's about three or four times a week. He'd sit there until midnight nursing a bottle of beer, not saying a word unless somebody spoke to him." Easy has other confidants such as Joppy and Coretta, but Odell is different in that he is totally self-contained. He does not seem to want or need anything from others, and is content to be a quiet creature of habit amid a tumultuous and often violent community.

Later on, Odell becomes the voice of fear and cowardice that opposes the brave voice in Easy's head. He tells Easy to run away from his problems. Odell serves to remind us, and Easy, that there is another path in life than the one he is choosing. He can stay safe from confrontation and violence if he chooses. But choosing such a path would mean living a quiet, uneventful life. When we put him next to Odell, we realize that Easy is not just a victim of circumstance, but a thrill-seeker.

Dupree is another foil for Easy. In fact, the two men are quite similar. Both of them have been employed at Champion aircraft, and both love thrills while preferring to stay out of the way of the truly rough types. They both sleep with Coretta, and are both subsequently interrogated by the police. What makes Dupree different from Easy primarily is his lack of concern for his own success. Whereas Easy loves his house so much that he practically considers it a person, Dupree drinks his wages away so that he is evicted from his place. Dupree reminds us that Easy is a man who loves stability despite his adventurous spirit.

Easy's interactions with Coretta are our first taste of the deceptive and dishonest side of Easy's character. Up until he sleeps with Coretta, he seems like a morally-upright person. Even though Coretta seduces Easy, he is not hard to convince. Later, in Chapter 9, Easy must lie to Dupree about the fact that he stole his girlfriend. After he does so, he says: "I swore to myself that I'd never look at another man's woman. I've taken that pledge many times since then." Easy is a good person at his core, but he is a bit of a "home wrecker" too.