Devil in a Blue Dress

Devil in a Blue Dress Summary and Analysis of Chapters 15-16


Chapter 15

When Easy arrives home, Mr. Albright's white Cadillac is parked outside. Manny and Shariff are waiting for him inside along with Mr. Albright, who has brewed a pot of coffee. He tells Easy that his information led to dead ends and demands to know where Daphne Monet is. Throughout his interactions with Mr. Albright, the voice tells Easy, "bide your time." Easy tells Mr. Albright about his night driving Daphne Monet to Richard's, and about Richard's murder. He writes down Richard's address for Mr. Albright. When Mr. Albright asks him for a drink of whiskey, Easy follows the voice's advice and tells him to get it himself. Easy's bravery tickles Mr. Albright, who has a renewed sense of faith in him. He tells Easy that he will leave him alone once he arranges a meeting for him with Frank Green. Easy, on the other hand, believes that Albright wants to kill him. He demands another hundred dollars, to which Mr. Albright agrees. Before he leaves, Mr. Albright tells Easy: "I'm not a man to fool with, Mr. Rawlins." Easy thinks, "... Neither am I."

Chapter 16

After Mr. Albright leaves, Easy sleeps all day and into the evening, haunted by visions of fear and death. Finally he calls EttaMae Harris in Houston and asks her how he can find Mouse. When she reminds him that she and Mouse broke up, Easy is heartbroken that he has caused her pain. He says, "The idea that I made Etta sad was almost more than I could take." Easy asks EttaMae to get in touch with Mouse for him if she can. Still spooked, Easy finally falls asleep as he stares at his lawn.


Mr. Albright breaks into Easy's home to symbolically violate him, to demonstrate that Easy isn't even safe in his own home. He even makes himself a pot of coffee, as though he is completely comfortable in Easy's place. As we know, Easy's home represents his independence and happiness. When Mr. Albright acts as though Easy's home does not belong to him, he insinuates that Easy will never fully claim the goals to which he so aspires, of being self-sufficient and happy. This only increases Easy's determination to hold onto his home.

Chapter 15 is the first time we get to see Easy's inner voice at work. The turning point of the scene is when Easy tells Mr. Albright to get whiskey for himself. He lets Mr. Albright know that they are equals; he will not serve him. It is a false show of familiarity that impresses Mr. Albright, because he sees that Easy is brave. Easy's inner voice is responsible for this triumph. It brings Easy composure in the face of danger and allows him to navigate in a delicate power balance. As Easy says, "I was ready to die but I was going to go down fighting."

Easy's instinct enables him to make the best of Mr. Albright's intrusion. Yet Mr. Albright has thoroughly infiltrated his sense of security. Easy cannot feel safe and at ease anymore, even in his own house. The only way Easy knows to feel safe is to call for reinforcements. As he explains in an earlier chapter, despite all of his bravery during the war, Easy felt truly safe only when he was with Mouse. That Easy is willing to invite such a volatile character back into his life signifies to us that he is feeling cornered by Mr. Albright and growing desperate. In a more general sense, Easy's call to Mouse informs us of the tremendous power that Mouse has over others. Indeed, the likes of Junior Fornay, Joppy, and others are no match for him. For Easy, Mouse is a protector and comfort despite the guilt and fear he evokes.

The last paragraph of Chapter 16 demonstrates that just having called for Mouse makes him feel safe again. Easy recalls, "I put my chair in front of the window so I could look out into my yard. I sat there a long time, balling my hands together and taking deep breaths when I could remember to. Finally the fear passed and I fell asleep. The last thing I remember was looking at my apple tree in the predawn." Knowing that he has an ally in Mouse, Easy can appreciate being a homeowner again. While Easy still feels unsafe in his house, the yard and especially the apple tree represent the success that he anticipates. Just like his tree, Easy hopes that his endeavor will "bear fruit" after all.