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Author : Capote, Truman
Title : In Cold Blood
Publisher : Random House
Original Publication Date : 1965
In a small town in Kansas a family of four were murdered for no apparent reason.
The murderers ran for a few years and finally they were caught, tried, and
accused for murder. In 1965 they were hung for the crime.
In the story a family was killed for no reason. This well respected farming
family had no enemies, and no quarrels. Although they were wealthy, Mr. Clutter
never kept cash in the house. The whole region and eventually the country was
shocked by the randomness and brutality of the act, in much the same way it was
by the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The two men in which didn't even know the
Clutter family went into their house and shot all four of them.
There were two main characters. Dick is the first one that I will talk about.
Dick was 33 years old and he did not have the best character. Dick was one who
helped participate in the killing of the Clutter family. I didn't like him from
the very beginning. He struck me as the type that is your friend one minute and
enemy the next. Perry is the other charecter that I will talk about. Perry
wasn't as bad as Dick but yet he still struck me as having a bad character for
what he did to the family. It took me awhile to get a good impression of Perry.
Perry was a really nice guy and I think that he just got mixed in with the wrong
crowd. At the beginning, when they first started to kill all of the family
members, they had them tied up and Perry didn't want to kill the family but he
thought that if he acted like he was gonna kill Mr. Clutter then Dick would stop
him. Then they would let them all go but when Dick didn't stop him Perry became
a mad man and went ahead and killed the whole family. Later at the gallows Perry
started to have second thoughts a little to late so he tried to starve himself
but didn't succeed. He was finally hung, during the hanging period he apologized
to everyone for what he did.
"This is it, this is it, this had to be it, there's the school, there's
the garage, now we turn south." To Perry, it seemed as though Dick was muttering
jubilant mumbo-jumbo. They left the highway, sped through a deserted Holcomb,
and crossed the Santa Fe tracks.
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west-see the trees? This is it, this has to be it." The headlights disclosed a
lane of Chinese elms; bundles of wind-blown thistle scurried across it. Dick
doused the headlights, slowed down, and stopped until his eyes were adjusted to
the moon-illuminated night. Presently, the car crept forward. This passage was
chosen because it was what Dick and Perry were saying right before they went to
the Clutter house and killed the family. I feel that this quote is an
important one. To me I feel that it suggest's that the accused were out to
commit a robbery, and had no original intent to kill the Clutters. Due to Mr.
Clutter not keeping any money in the home, the criminals were unable to locate
any money to steal. The criminals then proceeded to kill the family of four. I
feel that the murderers used the Clutters as a way of removing their anger from
not being able to locate the money they were looking for. The book follows the
story to the trial and execution of the killers, and spares few details
throughout. The outcome of the trial was guilty and the punishment was death
by hanging the accused.
One of the main points I saw by reading this book was the way the country /
region viewed itself after the murder occured. Many were shocked by the murder.
I feel that if the murder had of occured in todays society people would not have
been as shocked as they were then. When the story was based, not as many
murders existed, and this crime was just a total outrage to the normal society.
Why is the book on the Law reading list? Legal aspects of the book:
I feel this book is on the law reading list because it provides the story that
is based on law characteristics. In the story criminal law is presented. While
reading the book I noticed many crimes, that were later resolved in a court of
law. The book presented the arrest, trial and eventual conviction/execution of
the accused. This provides an excellect law guideline showing how justice was
The legal aspects of the book include the arrest of the accused, the trial that
the killers had to under go, and the decision for execution of the accused.
My Opinion On The Book
From reading this book I learned that even though you think that you can
trust someone you really can't. It made me realize that not all people are good
natured. It also made me realize that your mind can be changed by your friends.
I felt this book was well written, and provided a good story line. It included
a good combination of crime, which eventually lead to law and order. I enjoyed
reading the book, and would recommend it to others taking the law program.