In Cold Blood Letter Analysis

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Mr. Smith to the Kansas State Penitentiary
What do we learn about Perry from this letter?
Mr. Smith divides the letter into different sections, each corresponding to the stages of Perry’s life. In the first section “Childhood” we learn that: •Perry was a normal, healthy and well cared-for boy until his mother’s problems with alcoholism sprung up. •He grew up in the country, (Mr. Smith “We are all truly outdoor people.”) and was taught noble values and good manners. •After spending some time with his mother, Perry went to live with his father in a “hose car” (“Perry and I lived together peacefully”). He states in the letter that Perry did not like school because he was bullied and always fought back. This is actually quite an important piece of information since Perry’s main reproach to his father is precisely this lack of education. It may well be that the reason for this lies simply in over-protectionism. In the next section “Youth” Perry’s father goes on to talk about how Perry joined the Marines while he was in Alaska, that he fought in the Korean war and came back with Honors and he also mentions Perry’s motorcycle accident “…he has had a good taste of what speed will do…”. In giving us Perry’s interests Mr. Smith proves to be an utterly unreliable source of information. He describes him as a Sober man who likes the company of decent people and likes best to work for himself. He repeatedly compares himself with Perry, and although Perry might resemble his father in some ways Mr. Smith does not seem to notice any differences. He says that: they are both sharp even though neither had much schooling, they were made of outdoor jobs, they like to be their own bosses, they are fast learners, they are both skilled at many things and most importantly, for he repeats this idea throughout the whole letter, that they are both quite sensitive, or “touchie” as he calls it, “his feelings is very easily hurt, and so are mine.” Somehow, Perry’s father is trying...
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