Banal Evil

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Banal Evil

Murder often makes a persons blood boil and ask the question, “How can someone do that to someone else?” Most of time when a gruesome act of violence happens people wonder, “What kind of human being does it take to do something like that?” Truman Capote’s book, In Cold Blood, is about such an act of violence; a murder that, when the reader walks away, only registers a banal. The killing of the Clutter family, which happened in 1959 in the town of Holcomb, Kansas, blew most people away with its senselessness and horror. Capote, however, writes the story with personal background on the killers, making them human and giving the reader, something most people do not get to hear or even care to know, a reason to the mindless murders. Evil is easily banalized when there is a story to go along with it.

At the beginning of In Cold Blood the Clutters murderers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, are “persons unknown” elevating them to a state of inhuman, mythical form. The town of Holcomb, a small quite place where nothing happens, is suddenly shaken and view Smith and Hickock as motiveless evil that has come down to destroy the peaceful life the community has. “This hitherto peaceful congregation of neighbors and old friends had suddenly to endure the unique experience of distrusting each other; understandably, they believe that the murderer was among themselves” (88). This quote shows the havoc that is wreaked on the security of town, fragmenting the community into suspicion. They, as the town, fall from grace, a loss of their former innocence, as they are forced to confront the reality of the killers and the world they represent.

However, as the book moves on so does the readers point of view, from one of the townspeople to that of the killers. Capote replaces the simplistic view to a more sensitive interpretation exploring the physiological, material, and environmental circumstances that are the catalyst for Smith and Hickock to commit murder....
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