An Act of Prostitution

Essay by sgdragonslayerUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

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An Act of Prostitution

In An Act of Prostitution, an enormous, foul-mouthed whore stands accused of solicitation. Jimmy Mulligan is her court appointed lawyer. Not wanting to waste his or the court's time, he advises her to plead guilty and take a plea. Having no desire to return to jail, Mrs. Brown declines the offer and maintains her innocence. Another lawyer, knowing Mrs. Brown's reputation, asks if perhaps her case be heard first, as his client is a good Italian boy. The goal is to soften the judge with the humor of Mrs. Brown's case, to ensure that his client receives a lighter sentence. Mr. Mulligan agrees. The judge appears to be in an unforgiving mood, when he listens to the entire case of another defendant, only to decide he has no jurisdiction. When Mrs. Brown finally appears before him, she claims to be a file clerk, rather than a prostitute.

As the case proceeds, it becomes increasingly clear that Mrs. Brown is a source of hilarity for those present in the courtroom; and in the end, even she must laugh.

The atmosphere of racism in this story is almost cloying. Mrs. Brown, although she is white, receives different treatment because she is married to a black man. No one takes her case or her plea seriously. Even her own lawyer laughs at her feeble attempts to defend herself. Trials for blacks being just a formality is a notion that is abundantly apparent. The judge has already made a decision before hearing the case, but goes through the motions nonetheless. The sense of the "good old boys network" throughout the tale leads one to consider that the story may have taken place in the south, a region notorious for inequality.