Mystery in Literature & FilmDevil in a Blue Dress


FEATURES of AFRICAN AMERICAN DECTECTIVE FICTIONBlack protagonists and settings – Harlem and South Central Los AngelesFocus on the complexity and richness of Harlem and Los Angeles. A three dimensionalpicture of black urban life in the mid 20th century.Explores racialized nature of justice system – examined from perspective of blackcharacters.Addition of an African American perspective transforms the hardboiled genre’sunderstanding of it’s foundational terms. JUSTICE, INNOCENCE and GUILTo The black detective novel raises questions such as what do justice, innocence, andguilt mean in a society that is in some ways fundamentally unjust?Novels explore how the Judicial system treats African American peopleGuilt, innocence and justice can look very different when seen from an AfricanAmerican perspective..Day to day difficulties faced by African Americans is explored — daily racism that isinherent in their lives is shown.Texts by black writers illuminate the “whiteness” of the genreAllows writers to provide social critique through the detective, setting, situations, etc.WALTER MOSELY and DETECTIVE EASY RAWLINSMosley born in 1952 – worked in variety of jobs before becoming a writer in his 30s.First novel is Devil In Blue Dress – 1990 – Detective Easy Rawlins. Detective Easy Rawlinso Not a cop as protagonist but an amateur detectiveo Motivation for detecting is being unemployed and wanting to pay mortgageHired by white man Dewit Albright because Easy knows community of Watts -Albright doesn’t have access to this communityEasy is not a loner in a way that Marlowe iso Easy has a family that dictates what cases he takes on and how he investigatesthemEasy is connected to his community of Watts as a wholeBeing a detective does not mean being isolated and cynicalInstead he is a community resource -helps people in need in the communityaround him..Historical Mysteries provide Alternative History of L.A.Use of setting: African American neighborhoods of L.A. 1948 – 1960s.Blacks at the center of American history and life; black perspectiveMosely’s Los Angeles – meant to be a stark contrast to the Los Angeles found inthe work of the hardboiled writer like Chandler.Shows police indifference to black crime murder

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