The Images Of The Murderers In The Novel In Cold Blood

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Every single day a child is born, the same way as all politicians and bishops. Two people got together to create one, when a child is born, they are born with an empty brain untouched by the outside world just empty awaiting its chance to learn and create a personality. As the years go on the time you spent as a child fades away and the moments one lives through shapes and molds them to who they are in the present. People face challenges each day some events they cannot be in control of while other things one faces are completely one’s fault. Those events change people and that brain that was once pure and empty now has opinions and judgements that alter ones view on the world. After facing those challenges, most become strong and wise while the ones who do not learn from the events may become alone and afraid while becoming depressed. This is how a murderer is born, same as all human but not able to cope with the challenge’s life throws at them. In the true crime novel In Cold Blood the author Truman Capote shows how the progress of becoming a murderer happens by depicting what had happened in the lives of the two murderers, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith leading up to the brutal massacre of the Herbert Clutter family.

Firstly, Perry Smith just one of the two murderers in the highly well-known case. Smith is a person in the novel who the reader tends to feel sympathy for because of how in-depth Capote writes into Perry’s backstory. After the two men were arrested and brought to jail, the doctor, Dr. Jones did a mental health exam on Perry while he has behind bars and if the doctor could of testified in front of the court and under oath he could of said to the court that Smith had “…a paranoid schizophrenic reaction” (Capote, 298). Doctor Jones explains many of the most important events in Smiths life while they directly connect to why he has mental health issues. Perry Smith was born into a very unhappy and rough family, for that means when he grew into his childhood years which proved to be difficult for Perry to manage. From the day he was born his mother and father were divorced which was frowned upon in the early twentieth century, that lead his mother to become an abusive alcoholic leading her to give her children away to the orphanage where Smith was beat and battled each day, Smith quotes “She would fill a tub with iced-cold water, put me in it, and hold me under till I was blue” (Capote 119). Few years later Perry’s father did not allow him to go to school. These events changed his life majorly causing his to become an alcoholic like his mother and he succumbed to the darkness of depression. As a result of depression Smith started shoving people away not willing to trust anyone so he was unable to make anymore relationships with anyone because he would push them away. When he was able to maintain a friendly relationship with some it would most likely end up in ruins because he was quick tempered and frequently snapped on people.

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Perry had a difficult time growing up because no one taught him the rights and wrongs of society and the moral values that follow that. Perry knew his actions could be punishable and he knew that he was in the wrong for example, the time Perry decided to follow along with the robbery but all he cared about was the profit he would make it he followed through. The moment came during the murder though that stands out, Perry had Herbert Clutter in his grasp centimeters away from him with a knife in his hand. Smith was not clearly thinking as he slid the razor-sharp blade across the neck of Mr. Clutter or when he brutally shot Mr. Clutter and the young Clutter boy Kenyon. Perry didn’t want to kill Herbert as he was a respectable man during their short time together. After the murder Perry was very upset as he regretted his actions later stating, “They never meant to hurt me. Like other people, like other people all my life. Maybe its just that the Clutters were the ones who had to pay for it” (Capote 302). All the people who had ever been a negative person in the view in Perry’s life are the people who really did the murdering because the people who made Smith suffer through his life is the reason he slide the knife and fired the bullets into the fallen clutters. After the murders Smiths life really fell into despair and he was never the same man after he massacred an innocent family just living their life.

Dick the second and more vicious of the two men is the other side of the crime. Dick was born not into a cruel family like Perry Smith but into a kind warmhearted family. Dicks parents were nice and devoted Catholics. Dick was excellent in school receiving high marks while also maintaining an athletic stardom at school. On the downfall of this perfect lifestyle the Hickock family was extremely poor so with that means they were unable to send Dick to college. Dick was offered many sports scholarships, but he had to support his family. This sent the young man into grave unhappiness and therefore made him despise anyone who have the life he could have had if he had the opportunity to do so. When Dick was arrested after the murder the same Dr. Jones that did the psychiatric exam on Perry did one on Dick too and claimed that dick suffered from a character disorder which was very severe and the way he acted resulted in further damage. Dick chose to do wrong because he was a very unhappy man who did not think it would get worse than it is. He treated woman with the utmost disrespect and even raped young girls. He felt sexually attracted to young woman because he was a womanizer and he felt as though the easiest was to get what he wants which is sex is to get it out of the weak and venerable young girls. Even during the murder of the family Dick wanted to rape the daughter of Herbert Clutter before murdering her.

Overall, Truman Capote made the reader feel sympathetic for the two men and others by explaining that they were not born evil they were slowly groomed into the bestiality. Truman Capote in 1959 when the real murders happened travelled to Holcomb in Kansas where the Clutter family lived. Capote got to see their house and interview their friends and family and get a firsthand view of what had happened. He brought along with him his lifelong friend Harper Lee author of To Kill a Mockingbird to gather more information with him incase he missed anything important that he could write into the novel. Truman Capote really wanted the reader to feel truly immersed into this novel and that’s why he adds all this amazing detail. Capote wanted the reader to see how he really dug deep into the lives of these two infamous men and how one inconvenience could change someone forever. The message is that one never knows what background someone had but one could be kind and it could change someone’s life or save one.

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The Images Of The Murderers In The Novel In Cold Blood. (2021, September 07). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
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