The captivating story of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is a beautifully written piece describing the unveiling of a family murder. This investigative, fast-paced and straightforward documentary provides a commentary of such violence and examines the details of the motiveless murders of four members of the Clutter family and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers. As this twisted novel unravels, Capote defines the themes of childhood influences relevant to the adulthood of the murderers, opposite personalities, and nature versus nurture.
Truman Capote gives the reader a detailed report of Perry Smith's and Dick Hickock's childhoods. Smith's childhood was very problematic and scarred by years of abuse. He witnessed his father abusing his mother, which happened to result in a divorce. Due to these problems, he ran away from home, and he was "in and out of detention homes many times" (Capote 277). He was also severely beaten and humiliated by a nun in one of those homes. These violent episodes forced his hostility to come out toward other humans. When Smith entered adulthood, he turned into a theft and committed acts of battery. While in the marines, he once threw a Japanese policeman off a bridge and into the water. These events obviously had an impact on Smith, and his adulthood provided him with the opportunity to retaliate.
The two killers' childhoods were obviously unrelated, and their differences bring to question the configuration of a killer's mind. It obviously is not childhood that affects the criminal mind's mentality, since their childhoods were completely opposite. Smith's lack of companionship during his childhood probably led him to search for companionship in Hickock. However, Hickock took advantage of Smith's need by supporting Smith's dreams. Hickock truly felt that Smith's fantasies were bogus, but he supported them anyways because he needed Smith's aid to commit the Clutter murders.
Hickock's childhood had no horror stories. His years of childhood showed no signs of abuse or neglect, but his parents were a little overprotective. He showed no real hatred for his parents or his childhood. Dick's commencement into adulthood revealed his abnormal "tendencies," (Capote 115) and proof is given by Hickock: "I think the main reason I went there [the Clutter home] was not to rob them but to rape the girl" (Capote 278).
Another theme throughout In Cold Blood is the attraction of opposite personalities between Hickock and Smith. The first scene of Perry Smith is with a guitar and a set of road maps. The guitar appears to function as a feminine image and symbol. Part of what attracts Hickock to Smith is that Hickock feels "totally masculine" by this. In one scene, the criminals' automobile is mentioned. One of Perry's possessions is the guitar, and...