There are many prominent themes in the novel In Cold Blood, and they cover a wide spectrum of topics. They include the effects (if any) caused by environment in childhood, how a person of any of locale can be a victim of hostility, and the presence of contrasting personalities.
Truman Capote gives the reader a detailed account of Perry Smith's and Dick Hickock's childhoods. Smith's childhood was very problematic and scarred by years of abuse. He witnessed beatings of his mother by his father; as a result of the domestic violence, his parents divorced. Due to these problems he rans away from home, and he was "in and out of detention homes many times" (277). He is severely beaten and humiliated by a cottage mistress because of a mixuration malfunction. These violent episodes compelled his bitterness toward other humans. When Smith entered adulthood, he commited acts of thievery and acts of battery. While in the merchant marines, he once threw a Japanese policeman off a bridge and into the water. All these events had an impact on Smith, and his adulthood provided him with the opportunity to avenge the experiences that enraged him.
Hickock's childhood was marked by no horror stories. His years of childhood showed no signs of abuse or neglect, but his parents were a little overprotective. He showed no real contempt for his parents or his childhood. Dick's inception into adulthood reveals his abnormal "tendencies," (Reed 115) and in the novel proof is given by Hickock: "I think the main reason I went there [the Clutter home] was not to rob them but to rape the girl" (278).
The two killers' childhoods were obviously dissimilar, and their differences bring to question the formation of a killer's mind. Is it childhood that affects the criminal mind's mentality? Smith's lack of companionship during his childhood led him to search for companionship in Hickock. Hickock took advantage of Smith's need by promoting Smith's fantasies. Hickock truly felt that Smith's...
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