In Cold Blood Essay

1155 words - 5 pages

In Cold Blood "I didn't want to harm the man. I thought he was a very nice gentleman. Soft-spoken. I thought so right up to the moment I cut his throat." (p. 110) These are the words spoken by Perry Smith, one of the men who on November the 15th, 1959 killed the four members of the Clutter household. In Cold Blood, a nonfiction novel by Truman Capote tells just what happened on the days before and after the murder of the Clutters. Right up until the time the two murderers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, are hanged.While in prison, Dick Hickock hears a cellmate's story about $10,000 in cash kept in a home safe by a prosperous rancher. When he's paroled, Dick persuades ex-con Perry Smith to join him going after the stash.On a November night in 1959, Dick and Perry break into the Holcomb, Kansas house of Herb Clutter. Enraged at finding no safe, they wake the sleeping family and brutally kill them all - the rancher, his wife, and their teenage son and daughter. The bodies are found by two family friends who come by before Sunday church. The murders shock the small Great Plains town, where doors were routinely left unlocked.The killers then travel to Mexico, Hickock playing their way with bad checks. Tension grows in the complicated relationship between smooth-talking but malevolent Dick and half-Cherokee Perry, a moody little man with stunted legs who likes to sing and play the guitar. When their money runs out, they return to the States, pass more bogus checks and steal a car. They are finally caught and taken to federal prison where they undergo seven years before they are finally hung for murder.It is not only with a sick sensation of horror but with simple, genuine human sympathy that we watch the senseless murder of the four Clutters. Depicted with even greater care and with an insight always controlled by the facts of their lives, by their confessions, and by the testimony of others who had known them, are the two loathsome murderers.The most important characters, or rather people, in this nonfiction novel are the Clutters and the killers Perry and Dick. Mr. Clutter was a highly respected member of his community who had made his wealth from his wheat farm.He is a member of the church, the Farm Credit Board and was the founder of the Kansas Wheat Growers Association as well as a respected leader of the community. His wife Bonnie was a "nervous" (7) woman who suffered from "little spells" (7). She had just recently, however, been put in the hospital for spine problems, which seemed to help her case tremendously. Nancy, Herb's daughter and "the town darling"(7), was a sweet and feminine girl. Nancy, at the ripe young age of sixteen, already had many beaus and had appeared in many productions at her school. She was just beginning to bloom. Kenyon, the youngest at fifteen and yet also the tallest, was in the school band. He was considered by many to be "off somewhere…you never knew what he was thinking" (52) Kenyon was what one might call a...

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