An Analysis of White Butterfly

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