In the book In Cold Blood, Truman Capote tells the tragic story of the Clutter murderers and the victims of the murder in Holcomb, Kansas. After hearing about the murder, Capote felt like this story was perfect to start his new project on. He went to Kansas to interview, meet, and do everything he could to get as much information on this event as possible.
The different style choices, perspectives, evidence and descriptions Capote chooses to utilize in telling this story are used to not only help the reader visualize what went on, but to also manipulate the story to tell only what he wants the reader to know as he focuses on explaining his beliefs. Through his work, Capote emphasizes how easily perspectives can be altered or biased when it comes to the justice system. Capote puts the story together by capturing the last moments of both the Clutter family and the killers and everything in between that led up to those points.
He does so in a way that catches the attention of those who are reading it, even already knowing the outcome. The first section, “The Last to see them alive,” is proof of that. The whole section is about the lives of the Clutters and how that came to an end on that night. The sentence, “we went around to the kitchen door, and of course it wasn’t locked,” shows how safe the town felt with each other. But after the Clutter family tragedy, suspicion grew among the town members and paranoia struck the town as people began locking their doors, fearing they’d be the next target (Capote 59).
This section draws the attention towards the family as well as the people who knew the Clutters. They all seemed to have perfect lives and just living an ordinary life, contrasting with the lives of Perry Smith and Dick Hickock. Neither of them had an easy time growing up, making them “easy targets” of wrong-doing. People saw them as monsters rather than human beings and this viewpoint made it impossible for it to be seen as anything else, even in court.
The transitions between the Clutter family and the killers are used with such ease, almost like scenes from a movie, that it almost seems to link the two different parties of this story together. The book is written in many different styles that give the reader a different look in each situation, such as the different uses of ue and descriptions. There are moments in the story that it is obvious that Capote could not have been able to know what had actually happened, so he wrote what he did based on what he did know.
However, Capote uses so much evidence that even the parts that he didn’t know are still believed to be completely true. At some parts it is written in Capote’s point of view and gives a complete overlook, and in others it is written in the point of view of a certain individual, providing the reader with a certain point of view. Both are unique and used in a well thought-out way. Capotes uses this to include different information and leave out information when it is needed. The way the scenes are organized emphasize the key points that Capote wants the reader to recognize.
Capote intended on this story not just being based on true events but also that almost every detail is true. After the murder the town was frightened, and Capote does an excellent job with showing this. The sentence. “windows ablaze, almost every window in almost every house, and, in the brightly lit rooms, fully clothed people, even entire families, who sat the whole night wide awake, watchful, listening,” depicts the town as scared for their own lives and it does so without directly stating it (Capote 88).
At the beginning of the book, Capote states that someone could pass right through Holcomb without noticing they even passed it and this contrasts with the fact that that isn’t true anymore; you’d notice. If it wasn’t for the simple crimes Perry and Dick committed after the murder, the police would have never been able to trace it back to them. Also, a main topic in the story is the death penalty and whether it should be used for Perry and Dick. Both were considered to be mentally insane/ill, and believed that that might be why they did what they did.
But even after that, and despite their pleas, they both suffered the death penalty. The Clutters were made out to be a very pure, innocent, family portraying the murder as even worse. However, as time went on and we learned more about the killers, Capote seemed to lean towards and favor the criminals more, especially Perry. He actually was able to talk to and get close to Perry and even tried helping with their trial. It is almost as if Capote was trying to persuade the readers into having sympathy for them. Driving this book into having a plot with something other than suspense.
During the time of the trial, a lot of time was spent explaining what Perry was doing and how he felt. And at the end, when he was about to be hung, Capote even wrote that Perry had apologized and felt bad about murdering the family. This is strange because for the entirety of the book, up until then, he had no remorse for his actions whatsoever. Capote made the reader think about both perspectives by doing this. He was humanizing the killers, even when the people at the time didn’t even see them as human. By doing this he created a story out of it.
Without including all the information about them like he did the reader wouldn’t have gotten the sense of “corruption” in the court system. Capote wanted to write this to create a story based on nothing but facts. He interviewed so many people that were related to the crime but not everything was included. This tactic was obviously done on purpose to vividly show and explain the whole story just how Capote wanted the reader to see it. He used certain descriptions of places to create importance and made little to no reference to other places for the opposite reason.
Both the beginning and end of the book are descriptions of the landscape. At the beginning this was used to open up the story just before the Clutters take their last breath and at the end the purpose of this was to “close the book” as the killers took theirs and everyone else went on to live the rest of their lives. He only used certain interviews of the different characters to tell parts in a different perspective but he did so to include the much needed evidence but also direct the reader in a certain way of thinking.
For the entirety of the book Capote was written based solely on what he has learned but it isn’t until the end when he actually tells a part in which he played a direct role. It is written in a way that the reader feels like they are actually experiencing all the moments in this book firsthand. Capote controls this simply by deciding on what to say and what to leave out. Overall, Capote captured the murder in an extremely different way than anyone had seen up to that point.
The access he had was unbelieveable and is what made it capable for him to create a story like In Cold Blood. He not only wrote about a murder, he also included the steps and details of what happened after. The capturing of the two boys, Dick and Perry, and their trial probably being the most important. Today, nobody would have been able to do all of what Capote did and that’s what makes this book so special and one of a kind. It is an inside look of a murder, and put together in such a way that the reader feels as if they were actually there as it took place. pote reconstructs the events and he is able to create suspense and unpredictable empathy.
In Cold Blood is a work of art and depicts the easy manipulation that can be formed almost anywhere, especially the unjust criminal system, by outside forces. It also brings up the point of if Dick and Perry were actually held up to the same standard as other people because of their mental illnesses and life circumstances or not. The crime was without reason but meaning is given to it as the story unravels and more is learned about the murder and everyone involved.