Honors English II
23 November 2014
Capote’s Stance on Death Penalty
Through his novel
In Cold Blood
, Truman Capote expresses his disapproval of the death penalty by using different techniques to show his viewpoint of the case and the trial. While he does not explicitly state that he is against the death penalty, his writing style subtly suggests that he does not believe in the practice. He includes details of the Dick and Perry’s trial that were overlooked and provides different viewpoints to illustrate that the trial was unfair and the punishment that followed was unusual and cruel.
In his interview with William F. Buckley Jr in 2011, Capote states that the death penalty is “extreme, cruel, unusual punishment.” He illustrates this claim in his writing when describing the details of Lowell Lee Andrews’ hanging. Dick grimly states, “Old Andy, he danced for a long time...seemed like [his heart] never would [stop]. The fact is, his heart kept beating for nineteen minutes.” (336) This narration provides insight into the graphic death of Andrews, further supporting the assertion that capital punishment is cruel. Capote refutes the questionable claim that “[Those being hanged] don’t feel nothing. Drop, snap, and that’s it” (340) by including the dire detail that Andrews was left alive and suffering for almost twenty minutes.
Capote also states in his interview with Buckley that there is no “real, genuine, systematic approach” to sentencing a criminal because “courts allow this endless policy of appeal to such a degree that a person could spend 1114 years on [Death Row]”. Capote deems this unsystematic
approach in convicting persons as time consuming, and believes that waiting years for an execution is cruel and unusual punishment. Even Dick himself states “what is all this legal farce, why haven't those sonsabitches Smith and Hickock got it in the neck, how come those murdering sonsabitches are still