2018 | 8 | 258-277
Article title

Oppressive Faces of Whiteness in Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress

Title variants
Languages of publication
Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress contributes significantly to the literary debate on the definition of whiteness. The socio-historical construction of whiteness emerging from the novel is amplified by white imagery dovetailing with the claims made about white people directly. For the African American first person narrator, Easy Rawlins, living in post-World War II Los Angeles, whiteness mostly spells terror. The oppressive faces of whiteness consist in the following trajectories: property relations, economic exploitation, labour relations, the legal system, different miens of oppressive white masculinity denigrating blackness, spatial dynamics of post-World War II Los Angeles and the white apparatus of power that the narrator needs to confront throughout the novel. White imagery carried to the extreme magnifies the terrorizing aspect of whiteness in the narrative. Like many authors of colour, Mosley associates whiteness with death. Whiteness inundates Easy Rawlins from all sides, entailing insincerity, dishonesty, interestedness and hypocrisy.
Physical description
  • Opole University
  • Berger, Roger A. “‘The Black Dick’: Race, Sexuality, and Discourse in the L.A. Novels of Walter Mosley.” African American Review 31.2 (1997): 281–94. Print.
  • Berrettini, Mark L. “Private Knowledge, Public Space: Investigation and Navigation in Devil in a Blue Dress.” Cinema Journal 39.1 (Autumn 1999): 74–89. Print.
  • Chesnutt, Charles Waddell. “The Passing of Grandison.” Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of African American Literary Tradition. Ed. Patricia Hill. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. Print.
  • Du Bois. W. E. B. Black Reconstruction. New York: Russell, 1963. Print.
  • Du Bois. W. E. B. “The Souls of White Folk.” Writings. Ed. Nathan Huggins. New York: Library of America, 1986. 923–38. Print.
  • Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Vintage, 1972. Print.
  • Frankenberg, Ruth. “Whiteness and Americanness: Examining Constructions of Race, Culture, and Nation in White Women’s Life Narratives.” Race. Ed. Steven Gregory and Roger Sanjek. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1994. 62–77. Print.
  • Harris, Cheryl. “Whiteness as Property.” The Harvard Law Review 106.8 (1993): 1709–91. Print.
  • Kennedy, Liam. “Black Noir: Race and Urban Space in Walter Mosley’s Detective Fiction.” Diversity and Detective Fiction. Ed. Kathleen Gregory Klein. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State U Popular P, 1999. 224–39. Print.
  • King, Nicole. “‘You Think like You White’: Questioning Race and Racial Community through the Lens of Middle-Class Desire(s).” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 35.2&3 (2002): 211–30. Print.
  • Lipsitz, George. The Possessive Investment in Whiteness. How White People Profit From Identity Politics. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1998. Print.
  • Mason, Theodore. “Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins: The Detective and Afro-American Fiction.” The Kenyon Review 14.4 (1992): 173–83. Print.
  • McLaren, Peter. “White Terror and Oppositional Agency: Towards a Critical Multiculturalism.” Multiculturalism. A Critical Reader. Ed. David Theo Goldberg. Oxford: Blackwell, 1995. 46–73. Print.
  • Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark. Whiteness and Literary Imagination. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1992. Print.
  • Mosley, Walter. Black Betty. New York: Washington Square P, 1994. Print.
  • Mosley, Walter. Devil in a Blue Dress. New York: Pocket, 1990. Print.
  • Prashad, Vijay. Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Plurality. Boston, MA: Beacon, 2001. Print.
  • Roediger, David. The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class. London: Verso, 1991. Print.
  • Stein, Thomas Michael. “The Ethnic Vision in Walter Mosley’s Crime Fiction.” Americastudien/American Studies 39.2 (1994): 197–212. Print.
  • Szmańko, Klara. Visions of Whiteness in Selected Works of Asian American Literature. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015. Print.
  • Wesley, Marilyn C. “Power and Knowledge in Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress.” African American Review 35.1 (Spring 2001): 103–16. Print.
  • Wiegman, Robyn. “Whiteness Studies and the Paradox of Particularity.” boundary 2 26.3 (1999): 115–50. Print.
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.