Premium Essay

Clutter Family Murder In Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

Submitted By
Words 880
Pages 4
Typically, writers of murder novels attempt to take the side of the victims rather than the murders. It allows them to appeal to their audience by taking the side of “right” rather than wrong. That is until Truman Capote came along and changed the game. He is recounting the events of the Clutter Family Murder in Holcomb. Although Capote attempts to write a strictly fact-based piece of non-fiction, his own opinion on the characters cannot help but make an appearance. In Capote’s In Cold Blood, he reveals bias towards one of the criminals, Perry Smith, through his narration and the excuses he makes to defend the criminal. On the other hand, Capote’s favoring of Smith can be apparent through his dislike of Dick Hickock, Smith’s partner in crime. …show more content…
One thing the author tended to do on multiple occasions was bring up Perry’s past and home-life as a child; neither of which were very easy. Capote makes sure the audience is aware of Perry’s past. He has Perry narrate some of the more traumatic events in his life: “There was this one nurse, she used to call me "n*gger" and say there wasn't any difference between niggers and Indians. Oh Jesus, was she an Evil Bastard! Incarnate. What she used to do, she'd fill a tub with ice cold water, put me in it, and hold me under until I was blue” (Capote 172). Capote uses Perry’s mistreatment as a child to defend him during the Clutter murder case. Also, because Capote chose to let Perry narrate his personal experiences, the readers and the jury in the novel have the ability to feel sympathy for him. This upsets those defending the Clutters (the “good guys”) because evil does not deserve sympathy, but Capote begs to differ. Another example of Capote’s defensive nature is allowing himself and Perry to discuss his child-hood family relationships. Not only were Perry’s relationships outside his house unhealthy, but his family relationships were not much better if not worse. Perry had “no rule or discipline, or anyone to show [him] right from wrong" (Capote 54). His mother was an alcoholic that passed away by chocking on her own vomit, his father- a man …show more content…
During the trial, Capote does not come to Hickock’s defense. The trial allows for a psychiatrist to come in and analyze both criminals for a mental disorder or instability. During Hickock’s analysis… “Richard Hickock is above average in intelligence, grasps new ideas easily and has a wide fund of information. He is alert to what is happening around him, and he shows no sign of mental confusion or disorientation” (Capote

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

The Clutter Family Murder In Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

...In Cold Blood Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood covers the story of the Clutter family murder in Holcomb, Kansas. Many find it difficult to classify, as it is a mix of journalism and Capote’s creative ideas. It is known as a classic for its thorough characterization, intricate details, and accuracy. Capote combines these all of these ideas through his use of dialogue, plot development, characterization and imagery. A 1959 article was released a day after the murder, reporting what was inside the Clutter home. These details included how they were killed, what they were wearing, and where they were located inside of the house. Capote uses these details to create imagery, referring to the scene as “blood-soiled” and “blood-splashed” (78)....

Words: 500 - Pages: 2

Free Essay


...Truman Capote once said, “No one will ever know what In Cold Blood took out of me. It scraped me right down to the marrow of my bones. It nearly killed me. I think, in a way, it did kill me.” What about In Cold Blood was so harrowing for Capote? The answer is not clear from the quote but the answer can definitely be found in his book. The answer can be discerned by examining and analyzing his use of rhetorical elements. Thus, Capote’s projected persona must be examined, his audience must be identified, his relationship with the audience must be analyzed, his central message must be dissected, the arrangement of his arguments must be sorted out, the context must be explained, and the influence of the context must be thoroughly understood. By understanding these elements and their roles in In Cold Blood it will give readers an insight into Capote’s purpose and experience as an author. The First Rhetorical Question The first question that must be answered when examining the rhetorical elements is: “What kind of person does the writer or speaker seem to be?” This simply means to look at Capote’s diction and tone and determine his persona. In Cold Blood is alleged to be entirely factual; however, Capote blatantly infuses biases in the novel to further his overall argument and entertain readers. Capote shows himself in the text as a recorder of events, a reporter of the murders of the Clutter family, detailing the lives of every person involved. However, he gives special......

Words: 1408 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

The Clutter Family In Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

...The murder of the Clutter family, as portrayed in Truman Capote’s novel, In Cold Blood, was extremely difficult for the town of Holcomb to accept because of the community’s size and ambience, and the Clutter family’s popularity. The small size of Holcomb had a monumental impact on the town when the Clutter family was brutally murdered. Due to the fact that Holcomb was so small, everyone knew everyone else’s business. When the family was murdered, it made the crime personal for every citizen in Holcomb because of their closeness and familiarity. When describing Holcomb, Capote wrote, “The inhabitants of the village, numbering two hundred and seventy, were satisfied that this should be so, quite content to exist inside ordinary life - to work, to hunt, to watch television, to attend school socials, choir practice, meetings of the 4-H Club” (Capote 5). Holcomb was no...

Words: 505 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Truman Capote's In Cold Blood our features which we inherit from our parents. Whatever we do, good or bad, it helps form who we are. Family, education, financial status, are some of the factors that come into play when we think about how an individual is molded into who they are. Or is an individual born with these qualities? Are cold blooded killers naturally born as killers? The environment where you grew in may have a great effect on you. It influences the way you behave and respond to situations. What shapes us and how we...

Words: 1190 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Kidnapped vs in Cold Blood Comparison

...In the novels Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote both authors demonstrate their use of characters and their change throughout the novel. In Kidnapped, the characters David and Ebenezer Balfour and the characters Herb Clutter, Perry, and Alvin Dewey in In Cold Blood are dynamic characters because they all undergo a change within the novels. Furthermore, Capote and Stevenson use suspense to promote the character dynamics within the novels. Capote and Stevenson cohesively use suspense with irony, the theme of chase and the overall structure of their novels to illustrate the character dynamics. Suspenseful irony is used to show the change in character throughout the novels. Suspense adds to the theme of chase because the characters try to converge on something they are after. The structure of the novels plays to the authors’ use of suspense in their own styles. Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Kidnapped, depicts the adventures of David Balfour in search of his inheritance in the perilous Scottish Highlands in 1751. David comes close to retrieving his inheritance, but his uncle, Ebenezer Balfour, has other plans for David. He tries to kill David by coercing him to climb a rickety, old stair-tower. David barely manages to make it out alive because his uncle has lied to him about the condition of the stairs thus the devious side of Ebenezer Balfour emerges. Ebenezer’s failed attempt to get rid of David calls for the use of his secondary plan......

Words: 3051 - Pages: 13

Premium Essay

Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

...In Cold Blood is a non-fiction novel written by Truman Capote. Truman Capote was born in New Orleans in 1934. His birth last name is ‘Persons’, but his stepfather adopted him and took his last name. Growing up, he was largely neglected by his parents and bullied by schoolmates. Truman was a very good student in subjects that interested him but failed in all other academics. Although, many of his teachers had recognized his excellent writing skills. During his teen years, Truman got a job at The New Yorker. He attempted to get his own works published, but they would not publish them and he quit. After many years and some hit novels later, Truman read an article of four mysterious deaths in Kansas in 1959. Truman and his friend, Harper Lee, went...

Words: 1351 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

In Cold Blood And The Tell Tale Heart Comparison

...of many humans throughout history. From watching Law and Order or tuning into the famous OJ Simpson Trial, we as people are captivated by why some would commit this atrocious act against their fellow man. Just like in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart,” where both try to peer into the minds of murderers using symbolism and themes of madness; yet, the narrator's perspective and overall tone differ. Throughout both stories the authors explore themes of madness, be it focused on a main character or the narrator themself. In his book, In Cold Blood, Truman Capote explores sanity through Perry Smith, the man who famously murdered the Clutter family in their home in Holcomb, Kansas; all because him and his accomplice wanted access to the Clutter family’s safe. Perry was a happy child until his father started brutally beating his mother, who then took to drinking and promiscuity. Eventually she dragged her kids to San Francisco, where Perry was getting into trouble constantly. He blamed it on having "no rule or discipline, or anyone to show me right from wrong." (Capote 275) This lead to Perry’s...

Words: 1168 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

In Cold Blood

...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. Capote never intended for In Cold Blood to be a documentary of the multiple murder that happened in the small town of Holcomb. When Capote published his novel, people where not familiar with non-fiction novels. People knew of the murders that had happened and......

Words: 1242 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Practice Paper in Cold Blood

...Capote uses his nonfiction novel to criticise a justice system that punishes those who never had a real chance in life. Truman Capote, author of the non-fiction novel ‘In Cold Blood’, published in 1965 tells the story of the Clutter family murders. Capote uses the facts that he collected from the immediate people surrounding the case to establish his story. Capote uses these facts to establish scenes for the reader and allows them to see the Clutter family on their last day and the story of Perry and Dick. Capote also uses his novel to criticise the justice system of Kansas who punishes those who never had a real chance at life. ‘In Cold Blood’ contains details of the bias atmosphere that was present throughout the trial, the slighting of the M’Naghten rule and the stance that the result of capital punishment was unfairly executed. In the state of Kansas, the M’Naghten rule is not recognised and the justice system refuses to allow it to alter their cases. The M’Naghten rule states that the jurors ought to be told in all cases that every man is to be presumed sane, and to possess a sufficient degree of reason to be responsible for his crimes, until the contrary be proved to their satisfaction. Capote implies that this was a major missing link in the case of Perry Edward Smith and Richard Eugene (‘Dick’) Hickok. Capote tries to show his readers at multiple stages throughout the novel that Perry and Dick were not the perfect models for sane people. Capote truly embeds his......

Words: 1221 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

...The concrete dictionary definition of a protagonist is the leader of the story. Many people would say Perry Smith, the murder of the Clutter family is our protagonist; however, we would need to include Richard Hickock because without him, this novel and crime wouldn’t have happened. There can only be one true protagonist in a story. This is why Truman Capote the author and controller of In Cold Blood is our protagonist. This novel that very obviously is biased. The reader can only view the story through Capote’s eyes. Capote was especially opinionated on two things, capital punishment and the felons themselves. It is very apparent that Capote is against capital punishment. He places several anti-death penalty statements and uses this book to...

Words: 415 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

In Cold Blood Rhetorical Analysis Essay

...In the book, In Cold Blood, the author, Truman Capote, utilizes rhetorical strategies such as ethos, pathos, and literary elements to create a suspenseful story, which ultimately contributes to his central argument that criminals are not always inherently evil. Capote persuades his audience by empathizing for both of the Clutter family murderers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, in part three of the book, “Answer”. In this case, Capote describes both Clutter murderers in a sympathetic and impartial way, and portray them as sensitive, thoughtful, creative, and highly intelligent people. This in turn, gives the reader a feeling of empathy for Perry and Dick. First, in order to establish his credibility and trustworthiness (ethos) throughout the entire narrative of the Clutter murder case and the Clutter murderers, Truman Capote uses interviews and letters from a...

Words: 656 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

In Cold Blood Nonfiction Essay

...In the nonfiction novel In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Capote uses many nonfiction and fiction elements, such as fabricating certain situations to engage the reader further. Although the novel seems to be biased at times, Capote appears to use this technique along with others to create a journalistic novel that allows the reader develop his own opinion on its characters. This is caused by Capote’s use of evidence, which derived from the significant amount of research he did of which included interviews, reports, and facts, all from many resources. This creates, for the most part, a reliable and accurate account of the famous Clutter family murder. This also causes the reader to feel many emotions throughout the novel, such as empathy for the...

Words: 572 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Truman Capote Rhetorical Analysis

...Perception is how people process their reality. Capote uses several different literary techniques to uncover and analyze the character’s true selves and views. He often uses foreshadowing, metaphors and juxtaposition, not the traditional methods of the time, which usually consisted of simply restating the facts. Truman Capote is one of the original writers of uses styles of writing known as new journalism, bring in a new era of journalism. The style and rhetorical techniques used in this novel, help reflect the crucial difference between truth and perception. Capote uses juxsatapostion to allow the reader to approach the situation with many different views. Those many different perceptions can form a clearer image of the truth. Juxstapostition...

Words: 543 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Criminals In Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

...In cold Blood Research Paper In the novel In Cold Blood, Truman Capote explores a true story of two criminals Perry Smith and Dick Hickock who are convicted and executed for killing the Clutter family. The book follows the journey of these two criminals who are revealed to us as, not so much criminals but normal people with a different background and upbringing who have made not so good decisions, this draws us in as readers and we do not see them as dangerous criminals on the run, but troubled people with a sensitive past who have gotten caught up in something they could not have imagined themselves. Capote generates this effect from In Cold Blood, by it being a true story and having one on one personal interviews with the men while they were on trial, or as the book revealed; death row. We pick up on Dick’s more strong and masculine personality traits and learn of Perry’s more laid back and not as strong personality as Dick’s. In the midst of the reader’s coming close to them, both Dick and Perry are caught for the crime they committed together and tried for the murder, ultimately they are given the death penalty....

Words: 588 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Analysis Of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

...Truman Capote’s novel, In Cold Blood, documents the calamity surrounding the heinous murder of the revered Holcomb, KS native Clutter family by fugitives Dick Hickock and Perry Smith. This book served as a wakeup call to countless Americans, while its publication initiates responses that test the foundations of domestic America. In short, the potent reaction of small towns spread nationwide, ultimately revolutionizing local crime prevention techniques that tested the steadfast determination of the entire country. The description of the murder initially impacts the immediate area of the crime, by rousing gossip working to unravel local morale, trust, and unity. A friend of the slain Clutter family visits their home as she, “went around to the kitchen door, and of course it wasn't locked” (Capote 19). Firstly, this quote illustrates the deep perception of security encompassing this isolated, tightly knit town. Adhering to myriad rural standards such as the one described, Holcomb serves as a microcosm for rural towns abroad. The murder of this revered family incited serious reservations, sending shockwaves through the...

Words: 1092 - Pages: 5