Postwar American Society in the Devil in a Blue Dress

Destiny is waiting to work in his favor. A mysterious white man offers him money to find a missing white woman named Daphne Monet. That man must have been impressed by his gallant performance record in the army. Easy describes the man whose assignment he is to take up. His grip was strong but slithery, like a snake coiling around my hand (p.10). He is a gangster, DeWitt Albright. The plan is to search her first and then to take charge of her in person along with the substantial amount of stolen money. This assignment by a white gangster to a black ex-army man highlights the personal credentials of Easy and indicates the possibility of cultural transgression in that period of American history. His selection is a tribute to his individual merit and the white man must have seen the advantage in engaging a man who is trained in military discipline, as well as the arrival of the black community at the dominant site of action in Los Angeles. The assignment given to Easy has important social implications and it is a tough, calculated decision for the individuals of both the races. To highlight this aspect the author gives the true atmospheric picture of racial segregation in the post-war Los Angeles, and no segment of the society remains untouched by its evil influence. Easy had to carry out the assignment amidst a hostile background where policemen and other top authorities in the law and order hierarchy might implicate him in many types of crimes. He confronts prejudice from all sides and in every angle. Thus the assignment is tension-filled right from the word goes for Easy. Easy Rawlins, the army man: He gained varied combat experience in World War II and he was a ferocious fighter in hand to hand combat in which he killed many German soldiers. About his interactions with the white race, Easy states, ….I was used to white people by 1948. I had spent five years with white men and women, from Africa to Italy, through Paris, and into the Fatherland itself. I ate with them and slept with them, and I killed enough blue-eyed young men to know they were just afraid to die as I was.(p.9) With his accomplishments in the combat, he proved that a black man was just as capable of heroic acts as any white soldier. He had the practical experience of observing, as to how white men acted during distress. He took part in liberating Jewish survivors from the Nazi concentration camps and this experience taught how and why one should love humankind and what the price of peace was! After the war, he wanted to lead a peaceful life and completed his high school education and wished to prosecute his studies further. He got a job as the machinist in an aircraft production plant but lost it for challenging his white boss. This showed his fighting qualities and he was ready to face the inevitable to uphold the principles dear to his heart. Easy Rawlins, once he is out of the army: Once he was fired from a job, Easy Rawlins found himself in a desperate situation. One aspect of the personality that all the army men carried with them life-long was their pride, and Easy Rawlins was no exception to that trait. He had to take care of the financial commitments of mortgage and wanted to own his house.