Close Reading and Analysis Questions
“The Last to See Them Alive”
1. How does Capote build suspense even though the reader knows the ultimate outcome from the beginning? Pg. 62 Capote builds suspense by letting us know that the Clutter’s were murdered, but he doesn’t give us all of the details from the killer’s point of view until the very end. 2. What are some details Capote provides to describe the town of Holcomb, Kansas. Pg. 3-5 The author describes Holcomb being on the “high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call ‘out there’”. There’s “not much to see” with it’s prairie lands, and wheat fields. It’s a friendly town, quiet- unless there’s gossip to be heard. 3. Who is Alvin Dewey? Pg.80 Alvin Dewey was one of the main detectives working on the case. 4. Capote carefully depicts the personalities of secondary characters such as Alvin Dewey and Bobby Rupp. Why does he do this? What is the significance of these secondary characters? Capote goes into detail of the secondary characters to let you know more about them. I think that’s his way of introducing all of the characters in the story. The significance of doing this is to let you feel like you know the characters personally. 5. What were the only “serious clues” that were found at the crime scene? Pg. 83 & 65 The only serious clues were the foot print on the cardboard, and the Kenyon’s missing radio. 6. Who was their primary suspect at the beginning? Why? What would have been the motive? Pg 84 Bobby Rupp was their first suspect because he was the last to see the Clutter’s, the night of their murder. His motive would have been that Mr. Clutter had wanted Nancy to slowly break off their relationship. 7. Who did Perry Smith consider his “real and only friend”? Pg 124 Willie Jay was Perry’s only friend because he understood him and no one else did. 8. Describe Perry’s recurring dream. Pg 92 In his dreams, he is always in some kind of trouble and a “sort of parrot” ends up saving him just in the knick of time. 9. How did Dick and Perry obtain money to get to Mexico? Pg 97 Dick and Perry got money by writing hot checks for items, then selling the items later when they needed the money.
10. What is revealed about the town of Holcomb? How does the gossip surrounding the crime reflect underlying truths about Holcomb and small town Kansas? Pg. 149 Every little bit of gossip gets around in the town of Holcomb. If one person has an opinion, everyone in the town is going to know about it. They all start to become suspicious of each other, because in the beginning they think the killer could have been from the town. 11. Who is Otto, and where do Dick and Perry meet him? Pg 118 They met him on a fishing trip while in Acapulco. 12. What was Perry's most prized possession and what happened to it? Pg 124 His most prized possession was his guitar, and somebody stole it from him. 13. How does Capote work Dick and Perry’s backgrounds into the story? Capote works their backgrounds into the story by having flashbacks to their childhood or previous experiences. 14. Relate several specific details concerning what we know of Perry's upbringing by this point in the novel. Pg 130 Perry’s parents were split up, his mom was drunk quite often, he didn’t get the full education that he had always wanted, he had to deal with crazy nuns and orphanages, but finally he got to live with his dad (who ended up taking a lot of his frustrations out on Perry) 15. Do you feel sympathy for either Dick or Perry at this point? I feel sympathy for Perry more than Dick at this point. Perry didn’t have the upbringing that Dick had, so I feel like Dick doesn’t have a reason to act as he does in the book.
16. Who is Floyd Wells? Pg 159 He was the guy that Dick talked to while he was in jail. He worked for the Clutter’s, and he was the one that Dick was asking all of his questions about the Clutter’s to. Dick...