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Essay about Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

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Literature attempts to shape or reflect society, and oftentimes literature reveals truths and provides insight into the condition of that society. The American Dream is a dominant theme in American literature, and in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, the idealistic dream is critically evaluated. In this paper, I will explain the context of the work, and then I will compare and contrast Dick any Perry (the murderers) with the Clutter family (the murdered) in relation to the theme of the fragility of the American Dream.
Capote wrote what he considered to be the first nonfiction novel. Simply defined a nonfiction novel is one in which an event is reported using traditional literary and rhetorical conventions to expose broader truths concerning humanity as a whole without going astray from the truth (“Nonfiction Novel”). Capote had long felt that journalism could expose broader truths concerning the human condition that fiction could not, as Capote explains in this excerpt from Inge’s Truman Capote: Conversations:
I’ve always had the theory that reportage is the great unexplored art form. I mean, most good writers, good literary craftsmen, seldom use this métier…I’ve had this theory that a factual piece of work could explore whole new dimensions in writing that would have a double effect fiction does not have—the every fact of its being true, every word of it’s true, would add a double contribution of strength and impact. (40)
With the belief that nonfiction provides more impact than fiction, Capote utilizes the literary technique of montage to create a comparison and contrast between two separate beliefs. Helen Garason (143-44) asserts that Capote made this structural decision for maximum suspense and impact in order to drive h...


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Inge, M. Thomas, ed. Truman Capote: Conversations. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 1987. 40. Web. 5 Apr 2014.
< http://books.google.com/books/about/Truman_Capote.html?id=WWZ3XEQy6X0C >
Kim, Lydia. "Critical Essay on 'In Cold Blood'." Nonfiction Classics for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context, and Criticism on Nonfiction Works. Ed. David M. Galens, Jennifer Smith, and Elizabeth Thomason. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 5 Apr. 2014.
Knickerbocker, Conrad. "One Night on a Kansas Farm." New York Times . 16 Jan 1966: n. page. Web. 5 Apr. 2014.
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“Nonfiction Novel.” n.d. Web. 5 Apr. 2014. .
Silverstein, Jake. "Editor's Letter." Texas Monthly. Apr 2014: 16. Print.




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