In Cold Blood
In the novel, "In Cold Blood" written by Truman Capote he illustrates the events leading up to, during, and after the murder of the infamous Clutter family. Throughout these events, the author frequently compares and contrasts the two main characters, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith.
Perry Smith is one of the two main characters in the novel and also one of the murderers of the Clutter family. Perry "seemed a more than normal-sized man, a powerful man, with the shoulders, the arms, the thick crouching torso of a weight lifter..[but] his tiny feet..would have neatly fitted into a delicate lady's dancing slipper; when he stood up, he was no taller than a twelve-year-old child."(p.15) Perry's appearance is unexpected but correlates perfectly with his personality. Although Perry has a tough exterior he has moments, more often than not, of sensitivity. His delicate features show his attentiveness and good intentions. Perry's stature and features cause him a lot of first judgements that only attack his self-esteem, which had already been permanently damaged. Upon arriving to the Hickock residence, Perry wasn't to be had "in the house, one look and [they] saw what he was." (p.169) This shows how his intimidating and confusing exterior has caused him to have to deal with being automatically written off before he can express his true character. Another one of Perry's defining characteristics is his thirst for knowledge and to be educated. He "liked to read, improve [his] vocabulary, and [he] could draw...but never got any encouragement-from [his dad] or anyone else" (p.133). The lack of education Perry was offered, was one of the things that bothered him the most. He had different aspirations than his father, who made him travel and work after being pulled out of school with only a third grade education under his belt. His parents' lack of structure and guidance in his life was the reason his education had always been neglected. The structure of Perry's family undoubtedly influenced the person he became. From the beginning "he had often thought of killing himself, but those were sentimental reveries born of a wish to punish his father and mother and other enemies" (p.192). Being only a child and have such disturbing thoughts lays down the foundation of his questionable mentality. Not only does he wish to take his own life which shows extreme insecurity but his motivation to do so is to cause pain in others. Perry often relied on his imagination to replace the large divide left by his family and society's disregard. Perry used dreams and his imagination to escape such things as beatings. One he never forgot was when "[the nun] woke [him] up with a flashlight and she hit [him] with it...and when the flashlight broke, she went on hitting [him] in the dark. But then the parrot appeared, arrived while he slept, a bird taller than Jesus, yellow like a sun flower...[it] so gently lifted him, enfolded him, and winged him away to paradise" (p.92). Perry's use of imagination shows his sensitivity to reality becomes a complete disregard for it because of its harsh actuality. His thinking "reflects a 'magical' quality" that displays his immaturity and innocence in dealing with real life. Also Perry's family and their influence contributed to the person Perry became to be. The structure of Perry's family consisted of "Jimmy, a suicide. Fern, out the window. [His] mother dead. Been dead eight years. Everybody gone but [his] dad and Barbara" (138). This shows the instability of his family and also the example that was set for him. His brother took his own life, sister "fell" from a window while being intoxicated, and his mother was an alcoholic that had no consideration of what her actions would cause. Perry had very little positive instances he could imitate growing up which could be one of the causes of his very complex personality. Perry's remaining family, Barbara and his father, also had...
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