This study will provide a comparative analysis of the ways the subject of violence is portrayed and explored in Walter Mosley's novel Devil in a Blue Dress, Jess Mowry's story "Crusader Rabbit," and Zora Neale Hurston's story "Sweat." The study will argue that, within the context of the themes of each story, the subject of violence plays a major role in the struggle of the characters to make their way through a society dominated by such violence. The three works share a similar theme--the individual's effort to live a life free of violence in a culture in which violence is a major force. The study will also consider the central symbols of the three works in the context of the protagonists' struggle to liberate themselves from the oppression of violence.
In Mosley's novel, Easy Rawlins is a veteran of the violence World War II and a man with a civilian past shaped in part by criminal activity and violence. He is trying now to live a life of peace and relative prosperity, but because of racism he is forced to enter once again into the world of violence and crime in order to survive. In the context of that theme, Easy's house serves as a symbol of the straight life, the middle-class dream of peace and comfort. The need of Easy to keep the house is what first drives him back into the world of violence. Therefore, the house is a complex symbol with contradictory elements.
In Hurston's story, Delia Jones is a hard-working woman who is struggling to free herself from her violently abusive husband. The major symbol in the story is the laundry Delia does for white people as a means to live a relatively independent life. As with Easy's house, Delia's laundry contains contradictory symbolic elements. While the laundry is a symbol of her dependence on whites for work and income, it is also a means for her to finally challenge her abusive husband and live without him.
In Mowry's story, Jeremy is a homeless boy of 13 who is in danger of...