Capote incorporates many literary devices in his breakthrough “non-fiction novel” to persuade the reader to his opposition of the death penalty. Tone is one of Capote’s most effectively used devices. When Hickock and Smith first arrive at the Kansas State Penitentiary, Capote describes the prison as a “coffin shaped edifice” (pg. 309), and the black mesh covering the windows as a “widow’s veil”. Perfectly depicting the morbid atmosphere of death row, the “unpainted wooden gallows” (pg. 310) that sit in “The Corner.” The tone at the end of the book, displays Dewey’s confused emotions at not feeling “a sense of climax” (pg. 341) at Dick and Perry’s death. Instead Dewey felt more of a climax, “leaving behind… the big sky, the whisper of wind voices in the wind-bent wheat.” (pg. 343) Capote uses flashbacks to induce empathy for Perry. He convincingly portrays Perry’s father’s temper, mentioning a time when Tex beat his mother, and how he thought his father was going to hurt him. Capote flashbacks to reveal the nuns at the orphanage, the “black widows” (pg. 132) used to beat Perry with flashlights. His mother Flo, “took to whiskey”, (pg. 131) and the alcohol “soured her soul” (pg. 131).
Uncannily, Capote foreshadows the Clutter’s death. The bible at Bonnie’s bedside table is open with a bookmark embroidered with the admonition, “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” (pg. 30)