An Analysis Of White Butterfly Essay, Research Paper
In all of his books, Walter Mosley captures the environment and personalities of African Americans throughout post WWII history. His first book A Devil in a Blue Dress was met with instant acclaim. In this book he introduced one of the most unique sleuths that the literary world had seen. This 20th century Sherlock’s name is Easy Rawlins. In each Easy Rawlins mystery, Mosley brings out a certain aspect of his protagonist’s life and uses it as a subplot. In his third mystery, White Butterfly, Mosley looks at the relationship between Easy and his wife, Regina.
The story starts off with Easy enjoying a quiet Saturday afternoon with his family. He has two children, Jesus and Edna. Jesus is a young Mexican boy who Rawlins took in and kept as his own. The young boy had been abused when he was young. In fact, he had been sold to a sick man as a sex object. As a result, Jesus was psychologically scarred. He does not speak a word to anyone, especially men. As Easy is resting on his porch, two plain clothes detectives pull up onto the Watts street in front of Rawlins’ house. As they approach him, Easy knows that there is something big going on that he doesn’t want to get into. The detectives, Quinten Naylor and Roland Hobbes, convince Easy to take a ride with them. The take him to a murder scene where a black prostitute has been brutally murdered. Since Easy is know for his work around the black community as a private detective, they ask for his help. Easy respectfully declines, even after Naylor tells him that two other girls h!
ave been murdered by the same man.
Easy is greatly shaken by these murders, so he heads to a local bar to drown his sorrows in alcohol. He heads home to his waiting wife, who notices that he is inebriated. He then proceeds to rape his wife; all the while thinking that she is willing. This is highly important because it is the beginning of the subplot involving Easy and his wife. In the morning, Easy wakes up to a quiet house. His wife is preparing breakfast and does not notice him. Easy walks up to her, not knowing what happened the previous night and tries to talk to her. When Regina informs Easy that he raped her, Easy replies, “Man cain’t rape his own wife”. This is the beginning of the end for this relationship. Later on that day, after everyone has left the house, Easy is again visited by Naylor and Hobbes. This time, though, they bring friends. Along with the tow detectives is the LA police chief and one of the mayor’s aides. Apparently the same murderer who killed the three black women has!
now killed a white woman. Here we see the blatant racism of the era. No one cared as long as black women were being killed, but now that a white woman has been killed, the city is in an uproar. Easy, being the man that he is, lets the policemen know just that. He refuses to help the police find the killer again. This time, though, the chief of police threatens to arrest Easy’s best friend Mouse. Easy has no choice but to help. He goes out that night to various brothels and finds out a promising lead to the murderer. He relays that information to the police and returns home for the night. Regina is waiting for Easy once again, and asks him why he doesn’t talk to her about his past. Easy has led quite a checkered life, doing favors for people here and there. He is also quite rich, but he doesn’t let anyone know this. Easy, being the communicative man that he is, doesn’t tell his wife a thing. Yet another wedge is being driven into the gap forming between Easy and Re!
That night Easy receives a call from Mouse’s lady friend. Mouse has been arrested. Easy rushes down to the police station and bails Mouse out. While doing this he runs into Quinten Naylor who lets Easy know that information is not enough. He must track down the murderer. So, Easy once again hits the streets taking Mouse along as his partner and backup. Now, Mouse, whose real name is Raymond Alexander, is the most vibrant character in this book. He is a vicious killer with a heart of gold. His contradictory personality makes for an interesting person to read about. Easy, his best friend lives in fear of Mouse at all times, because the slightest thing can set Mouse off. He kills with no remorse, and jumps in to help a friend without hesitation. Mouse is the perfect balance to Easy’s conscience. Easy and Mouse head back to one of their first sources and find out more about the killer. Then they look into the history behind the white girl, Robin Garnett. Garnett is !
the daughter of a prominent prosecutor for the Los Angeles justice system. She was reported to be a coed at UCLA. Easy finds out otherwise. Garnett is also known as Cyndi Starr, the White Butterfly. Cyndi has been living her life as a stripper and a prostitute. Apparently her parents don’t know about this. As the story goes on, easy finds the killer of the black women up in Oakland. He travels there and locates the man in a club. The murderer is killed in a fake argument used to set him up. Easy realizes he has been used by the police to set up and kill the murderer. When Easy returns, his wife and baby girl are gone. Regina has found another man and has taken his child with her. Rawlins drowns himself in liquor and basically neglects his other child Jesus. Easy gets a call in the middle of the night from Robin Garnett’s father. Mr. Garnett has discovered that Cyndi has a baby girl, and he wants Easy to find her. Easy searches for Robin’s(Cyndi’s) best friend. H!
er name is Sylvia Bride. She is another prostitute that lived with Cyndi during Cyndi’s pregnancy. He finds Sylvia, and Sylvia offers Easy a box filled with pictures and a diary. All of these belonged to the deceased Robin Garnett. As Easy returns from the meeting he is arrested for the extortion of Mr. Trevor Garnett; the same man that hired him. In jail someone tries to kill Easy, and Easy escapes. He knows that there is something very wrong with the situation. The chief of police comes to visit Easy in jail in order to get him to confess to extortion. Instead Easy tells the chief that he has solved the mystery. Robin Garnett’s killer is none other than her own father, Trevor. He describes how Robin must have been threatening to go to the press about her being a prostitute when he wouldn’t help to take care of her child. She was blackmailing him, and he killed his own daughter. After a week, Mouse comes to bail easy out. While out of jail Easy discovers that Trev!
or Garnett has disappeared along with Sylvia Bride. Rawlins gets an anonymous tip on where Trevor and Sylvia are. He goes there himself, armed with his pistol. He goes into the hotel room while Trevor is gone. He discovers Sylvia’s body in a closet and realizes that he has his man for sure. Easy lays in wait for Trevor and shoots him as soon as Trevor enters the room. In the process Easy also finally discovers where the baby girl is hidden. He goes to pay for the child, and keeps her as his own. She is a bi-racial child named Feather.
In this book we see racism and the despair of the 1950’s lower class. Easy Rawlins, while the hero of this story, is also a villain in his own home. White Butterfly expresses the duplicity in the beings of Los Angeles, and the world. Everyone in this story is leading a kind of double life. The symbols are seen everywhere, especially in the life and death of the victim, Robin Garnett. The racism is seen throughout, especially through the treatment of various blacks by the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department). The special thing about this book is that the protagonist, Ezekiel (Easy) Rawlins is a regular human being. He is not some souped up hero, he is a man with as many faults as you and I, and makes many mistakes as well. This lends to the realistic quality that these books bring to the reader. Perhaps the reader sees a little bit of Easy in himself.