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Comparing In Cold Blood To The Kiss

782 words - 3 pages

The Kiss, by Kathryn Harrison, and In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote, depict the destructive role that dysfunctional relationships between parents and their children play in the ultimate shaping of personalities. In both books, the authors emphasize the severe consequences of an emotionally and physically abusive primary relationship. Living in a cold and isolated home with her mother, Harrison becomes emotionally unstable and spends her life unsuccessfully trying to take revenge on her mothers failures. Perry Smith, in In Cold Blood, grows up in a poor home surrounded by violence and eventually acts out his anger in a brutal murder. During his testimony, he describes his childhood memories every single one punctuated with a beating.It was inevitable for people like Harrison and Perry, who were raised in homes without positive emotion or even basic morals, to become involved in such horrific acts.Harrisons father, "whose existence is never acknowledged" (5), was forced away from the family shortly after Harrison was born. As a result, she was raised by her mother and grandparents. Tragically, none of these figures nurtured Harrison, leading her to describe her childhood as one of "female warfare and tricky, shifting alliances." (36) Her grandfather denied her any attention as soon as she reached puberty, effectively abandoning his granddaughter at a crucial moment. This sudden rejection was a source of great sadness for Harrison, because the two had had an extremely close relationship. The grandmother, for her part, is described as a woman who needed total power. Finally, Harrisons mother is agitated and uncomfortable playing the role of both a mother and her father and often simply tries to escape it.The absence of parental love, particularly male love, in Harrisons early life was the primary reason she became so vengeful. Her unstable childhood offered her no way to deal with her pain. As Kathryn began an affair with her father, an affair she recognized as morally unacceptable, she decided that the injury to her mother would be a perfect vengeance, a vengeance deserved by the mother who never treated her as a daughter. Thus, Harrison places revenge above her own dignity.Harrisons perverse act of revenge does not come without warning. Throughout the book, Harrison tries to gain the attention of her "blinded" mother.She...

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