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We Are What We Carry Essay

933 words - 4 pages

The important items, that any person keeps close, strongly reflect the various aspects of their personality and the ideals they hold. This concept is clearly seen in Perry Smith, a creative and intelligent murderer, from Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. This novel begins with Dick and Perry killing the Clutter family for their wealth. The story then follows Dick and Perry as they try to escape the pursuing police. Throughout, Perry and Dick’s conflicting personalities hinder their ability to carry out their original plan. Perry keeps a collection of interesting, seemingly random items, but they represent significant points in his life. Perry’s eclectic collection reflects his value of intelligence, his search for stability, and pursuit of forgiveness.
Perry’s obsession with his intelligence and that of others is clearly shown. “The thicker of which constituted his personal dictionary, a non-alphabetically listed miscellany of words he believed ‘beautiful’ or ‘useful’ or at least ‘worth memorizing” (146). Perry had a false idea of intelligence and what it meant to be smart. His personal dictionary included words that were irrelevant and unlikely to be used in pedestrian conversations. Perry’s outlook on intelligence is skewed, and he does not understand how to use his intelligence. Perry is also envious of others’ ability to use their education. A prime example of this is of his conversation with his sister Barbara, “Please Bobo. Please listen. You think I like myself? Oh the man I could have been. Every damn one of you got an education. Everybody but me” (185). Perry is angered by the fact his siblings received an education, while he remained uneducated. He feels cheated that his sister is better educated than him. Perry envies the education of his family and others. He spends a great deal of time wishing to be more intelligent, that he becomes blind to his own intelligence. Perry does not like himself at all, and believes he missed opportunities to better himself. Perry has a complex relationship with the intelligence of himself and his peers.
Perry’s search for a stable environment is evident throughout the novel. This is reflected through his possession of an object from a time of stability, the belt from a snake he trapped. “The skid delayed for a year the reunion with his father. Surgery and hospitalization account for six months of that year; the remainder he spent recuperating in the forest home,” (134). Perry stayed with Joe James and his wife in a cabin in the woods. Joe James and Perry trapped animals together which aided Perry’s recovery. Joe James provided solidity for Perry when he so desperately needed it. Juxtaposed with his unstable childhood, Perry enjoyed this very...

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