The main purpose of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is to offer insight into the minds of the murderers of the Clutter family, Dick and Perry. However, asking an audience to be open-minded about men who have committed such heinous crimes is no easy task. Capote instead methodically and rather artfully combines imagery, parallel structure, and perspective in two separate passages found between pages 107-113 to contribute to his characterization of Perry and Dick where the former is deserving of sympathy and the latter, disgust.
Truman Capote finds different ways to humanize the killers throughout his novel In Cold Blood. He begins this novel by explaining the town of Holcomb and the Clutter family. He makes them an honest, loving, wholesome family that play a central role in the town. They play a prominent role in everyone’s lives to create better well-being and opportunity. Capote ends his beginning explanation of the plot by saying, “The suffering. The horror. They were dead. A whole family. Gentle, kindly people, people I knew --- murdered. You had to believe it, because it was really true” (Capote 66). Despite their kindness to the town, someone had the mental drive to murder them. Only a monster could do such a thing --- a mindless beast. However,
In the nonfiction novel, “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote, the author tells a story of the murderers and victims of a slaughter case in Holcomb, Kansas. Instead of writing a book on the murder case as a crime report, the author decides to write about the people. The people we learn about are the killers, Dick and Perry, and the murdered family, the Clutters. The author describes how each family was and makes the portrayals of Dick and Perry’s family different from the Clutters.The portrayal of the Clutters and of Dick and Perry’s families, was used to describe what the American Dream was for each character. In the beginning we learn about what type of family the Clutters were and how they represented the American Dream for the people of Holcomb.
Truman Capote establishes respect and trust in what he writes from with audience, ethos, through the use of an extensive variety of facts and statistics, logos. Capote uses so many dates, times, and other facts about the crime committed in the book and the subsequent investigation that the reader has to believe what the author is writing. The use of all these facts shows that Capote did his research and he interviewed, questioned, and obtained the opinions of every person that even slightly important to crime itself and the investigation/trial. The author is obviously very meticulous when it comes to dates and times; every important event in the book has a date and sometimes even a time of day to go with it. Some examples of dates included were the day of the murders (November 15th, 1959), dates of when Perry and Dick were here or there (December 31th, 1959- a small restaurant in Texas or noon on December 25th, 1959- beach in Miami Florida), date when the two criminals were apprehended (January 1st, 1960), dates when they were brought from this prison to that one and finally when they were brought to death’s row (April, 1960). Other small facts are also used by the author, like facts about the criminal’s early lives or experiences that they had, which could only have been obtained through extensive interviews with Perry and Dick. The use of all these logos by Capote establishes strong ethos, showing the reader that the author did more than enough research to show that he has the knowledge to write a whole book on the subject.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT: In Cold Blood, a 1966 book by author Truman Capote, tells the true story of the barbaric 1959 murders of a successful farmer from Holcomb, Kansas, Herbert Clutter, his wife, and two of their four children. When Capote was informed about the murder of these four innocent souls before the two selfish men were captured, he decided to travel to Kansas and write about the crime. Nelle Harper Lee, a childhood friend and fellow author, accompanied him and together they interviewed local residents and investigators assigned to the case. As a result, thousands of pages of notes were documented for Capote’s literary works. The murderers, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, were arrested six weeks after the murders and after the criminals were found, tried, and convicted, Capote organized personal interviews with both Smith and Hickock. Capote portrayed Smith as the more sensitive and guilt-ridden of the two killers due to his fascination with Smith. Rumors of a relationship between Smith and Capote still linger to this day. The book was not completed until after Smith and Hickock were executed. Capote ended up spending six years dedicated to his book, which became the greatest crime seller at the time and is almost universally acknowledged as one of the best books of its type ever written.
In Truman Capote’s non-fiction novel In Cold Blood, the Clutter family’s murderers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, are exposed like never before. The novel allows the reader to experience an intimate understanding of the murderer’s pasts, thoughts, and feelings. It goes into great detail of Smith and Hickock’s pasts which helps to explain the path of life they were walking leading up to the murder’s, as well as the thought’s that were running through their minds after the killings.
In Cold Blood, a novel written by Truman Capote and published in 1966, is, though written like fiction, a true account of the murder of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas in 1959. This evocative story illuminates new insights into the minds of criminals, and how society tends to act as a whole, and achieves its purpose by utilizing many of the techniques presented in Thomas C. Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor. In In Cold Blood, Capote uses symbols of escape and American values, and recurring themes of egotism and family to provide a new perspective on crime and illustrate an in-depth look at why people do the things they do.
Truman Capote’s non-fiction novel, In Cold Blood, was a breakthrough in literacy in that it was accredited as the first non-fiction novel. There was a lot of controversy when the book was first published because of the incredibility of the work. This could be expected in that time, because people where not familiar with the concept of non-fiction novels yet, but this is where the beauty of this style of writing lies, the recreation of the truth. It would have been impossible for Capote to have documented the occurrence fully, because he only read about the murder after it had happen, after all, this was not what he wanted to do. Capote got a lot of criticism for the book, because of him bending the truth, putting in scenes that never happened and his ways of gathering information, but people still saw the talent that went into creating the non-fiction novel. Truman Capote will forever be recognized for this novel and the contribution he made to literacy. In this essay we will be discussing the strengths and weaknesses of In Cold Blood when it delivers facts and the credibility of the work. We will also be discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the novel when Capote bends reality and ad some parts of fiction.
In Truman Capote’s famous non-fiction novel, In Cold Blood, there is evidence that supports the injustices of the trial: death penalty. The final outcome of the trail was never to be any different than death. “Of all the people in all the world, the Clutters were the least likely to be murdered” (Capote 85). We know the two men who killed the Clutter family, Perry Smith and Bill Hickock, preplanned the crime with malice and forethought. Although the actions were crul and grusome, does Death Row fit what they did if their pasts, childhood environments and situation, are bad. Capote shows the effect of childhood on the killers and if the death penalty is fair. Capote gives the killers a voice to show their humanity by giving childhood accounts of their lives. He questions the justice of is the death penalty fair, and if inherent evil is a product of childhood or society. Is it nature or nurture? Capote gives a look into the minds of the killers and the nature vs. nurture theory. The detailed account the killers’ childhoods makes the reader sympathize with the Clutter family’s killers Smith and Hickock. Should they reserve the death penalty? Did Truman Capote take a stand on the death penalty? By giving the readers a detailed accounting of Perry Smith’s and Dick Hickock’s childhood, Capote sets up the reader for nurture vs. nature debate on the death penalty. The question then becomes, do the effects (if any) caused by environment in childhood make for a trained killer or a natural born one?
The film Capote, based on the how the writer of “In Cold Blood” did his research to write his book, a masterpiece of literature, has portrayed Capote’s behavior during his research vividly. Capote’s behavior during the years Perry waits on death row in order to get personal testimony of the night of killings is a controversial topic. Some argue that what Capote did was absolutely necessary for an ambitious writer to create such a master piece while other argue that human ethics is more important than the creation of an ideal “non-fiction noble” and the paths he took to get there are morally ambiguous. Even though he gave the world a milestone in literature, his behaviors seem unethical because he lied, pretended to be a friend of an accused murderer who was in a death row, and did not have any empathy to him.