Devil in a Blue Dress

Devil in a Blue Dress Summary and Analysis of Chapters 21-22


Chapter 21

Easy goes to Joppy's bar, carrying lead pipes in his pockets for protection. He tells Joppy that he knows Daphne called him because of Joppy. Joppy tries to deny it, brushing off the trouble he has caused Easy. When Easy tells him that he is now after Frank Green, Joppy understands how serious the situation has become. Joppy knew Daphne because she would come into his bar with Frank when he delivered alcohol. He told Daphne he had some information about her and lied about knowing her to Mr. Albright, thinking he was doing Easy a favor by making him some money. When Daphne wanted to know why Mr. Albright was looking for him and also wanted help going to see Richard, Joppy gave her Easy's phone number. Joppy did not tell Easy that he knew Daphne because he wanted her for himself.

Easy tells Joppy, "That girl is the devil, man ... She got evil in every pocket." The two men make peace over whiskey and cigarettes. Joppy tells easy to run, but Easy knows that the best thing to do is win Frank Green's trust and have him and Mr. Albright "fight it out." Joppy says he does not know who killed Coretta and Howard Green, but he does know who killed Richard McGee. But he refuses to tell Easy, saying, "I can't see where it helps either of us for me to tell you."

When Easy returns home, the gate is unlocked. Frank Green punches him and shoves him through the door onto his couch, then pulls a knife on him. Easy tells Frank he can make them five hundred dollars, but Frank is ready to kill him. He pricks Easy's neck with his knife. Easy looks around for something with which to defend himself, but all he notices is that his wooden chair is next to the sofa, not where he usually keeps it. When Easy tells Frank that someone he knows is looking for Daphne Monet, it only makes him angrier. Suddenly Mouse appears, dressed gaily and with a gun pointed at Frank's back. The phone rings and Mouse answers it as though there is no violent struggle occurring before him. Then Mouse forces Frank to put down his knife. Easy explains that "Knifehand was a bad man but there wasn't a man in his right mind who knew Mouse who didn't give him respect."

When Frank will not tell Easy where Daphne is, Mouse pistol whips him. Easy begs him to stop, and the bleeding Frank takes the opportunity to escape. Easy tells Mouse he does not want his help, despite Mouse's insistence. Finally, he breaks down and tells Mouse how the night in Pariah torments him. He hates knowing that it was really Mouse who killed Daddy Reese and not Clifton. Easy agrees to let Mouse help him on the condition that Mouse follows his instructions. Easy gives Mouse all the information he has on where to find Mr. Albright, Odell, and Joppy. He sends Mouse to find Frank and decides to seek Daphne by himself.

Chapter 22

Easy leaves out some important details when he talks to Mouse. He does not tell him about the thirty thousand dollars Daphne stole because, he says, "he would have killed me for that much money." He also does not tell Mouse that he knows Mr. Carter or Mr. Carter's name. Mason and Miller intercept Easy and Mouse as they leave the house. Mouse tells them his name is Navrochet and gives them a phony home and work address before leaving. The officers escort Easy back into his house and make him sit in a chair while they question him. They ask him what he knows about Richard McGee, but Easy pretends not to know anything. They have a handwritten note from his night table that says "C. James." Easy also pretends not to know anything about Howard Green, Coretta James, and Matthew Teran. Teran called the police the night they arrested Easy. He wanted to know if Easy knew anything about who killed Howard Green, who was his driver. It was Mason and Miller who pointed Teran in Easy's direction. They tell Easy that Teran was found dead, shot through the heart, in his office that morning.

As Miller interrogates him, Easy notices a small crescent scar under his eye. He says, "It seemed to me that I always knew he had the scar. Like I knew it and I didn't know it at the same time." The officers take Easy back down to the police station where they fingerprint him, hoping to match his prints to one on the knife used to kill Richard McGee. Easy worries that the officers will frame him just to have a culprit, but when the fingerprint results come in, the officers let Easy go. Miller threatens Easy by saying: "We're going to bring you down for something, Ezekiel, you can bank on that." Mouse picks Easy up from the police station, having started Easy's car with some wires. He says he knows where Dupree is hiding. Easy tells Mouse to drive him somewhere before they go to see Dupree.


In Chapters 21 and 22, Easy's sense of security is further threatened. When Frank Green, Miller, and Mason invade his home, they echo Mr. Albright's actions. But the threat to Easy's security goes beyond his property to those he considered friends and trustworthy confidants. The first of these is Joppy. In Chapter 1, Easy recalls his interactions with Joppy fondly. He is even jealous of Joppy's security in being a business owner and having a predictable life. Even though he tells us that Joppy is tough and frequents places like Ricardo's Pool Room, we have no reason to believe he is untrustworthy until Chapter 21.

Easy is so wary of Joppy that he carries weapons, lead pipes, in his pockets when he goes to see him. Their familiarity is gone until Joppy confesses and the men drink together to make peace. Still, we see that Joppy is a creature driven by a desire for self-preservation and advancement just like Easy. As we learn in later chapters, Joppy is unfortunate enough to pay for his desire with his life. Even though Easy leaves Joppy's bar secure that his friend is trustworthy again, his security is indeed threatened. As we learn later, Joppy is the one who killed Howard Green and Coretta with such rage that he disfigured them beyond recognition. As a character, Joppy is perhaps worse than Mr. Albright or Mouse. At least those characters wear their dishonesty and violence up front; Joppy pretends to be honest and decent when he is really a cold-blooded murderer.

Frank Green shakes Easy's sense of security to the core by attacking him in his own house. Mouse restores Easy's sense of security by beating Frank Green. But more than that, he promises Easy that he will follow his commands. Easy knows that he can never 'tame' Mouse, but feels especially safe knowing the Mouse respects him enough to help him on his own terms. But even Mouse cannot prevent Mason and Miller from shaking Easy's confidence again. Like Mr. Albright and Frank Green, they symbolically challenge Easy's security and independence by interrogating him in his own house. Then they challenge it legally by taking him back down to the police station to try to pin Richard McGee's murder on him. Even with Mouse close by, Easy is on his own.

Easy's interactions with Mason and Miller bring up the topic of race once again. With this second arrest, Easy feels the injustice of the situation more sharply. The officers are not just following routine; they are after him specifically. Easy worries that Miller and Mason will simply frame him in order to look good. After all, "You never could tell when it came to the cops and a colored neighborhood ... The police didn't care about crime among Negroes ... The difference was that two white men had died also." The police are not concerned with Coretta and Howard Green's deaths -- brutal as they were -- because black people's deaths don't bother them. They are only concerned because Richard McGee and Matthew Teran are dead. Of course, the great irony is that while Howard and Coretta were more or less moral people, Richard and Teran are both pedophiles and abusers. The truly corrupt whites in the story have "justice" on their side even after death.

Chapters 21 and 22 also give us insight into Mouse's character. Mouse takes great pleasure in injuring Frank Green, perhaps as much as he takes pleasure in saving his friend. He is so casual about violence that he even answers Easy's telephone in the middle of the confrontation. Mouse is equally cool about lying to Mason and Miller in order to get them off his back. Easy also reminds us that Mouse is animalistic in his actions and desires. After all, he neglects to tell Mouse about the thirty-thousand dollars because he knows that Mouse would lose all reason and control and kill anyone to get the money. As Easy explains, Mouse cares about money more than anything: Mouse forgave him easily for sleeping with EttaMae when she and Mouse were engaged, "But if I'd touched his money he'd have killed me straightaway."