In Cold Blood Essay (Question 3)
In the novel In Cold Blood, Truman Capote portrays Perry Smith as both a victim and a hero in order to make the reader connect more sympathetically with Smith, thus making him the protagonist of the text.
Protagonists are generally the character with whom readers sense the author has the most sympathy. Throughout the text Smith is constantly portrayed as the victim. In the first introduction regarding Smith describing his physical appearance prior to the murders, Capote uses word choice to create the impression that Perry is the victim, thus causing the reader to feel more sympathetic towards Smith. Smith was severely “…maimed” and his injuries “…were more severe” (Capote 31) than his partner in crime, Dick Hickock. The description of both murders favors Smith, causing the readers to feel more sorrow towards Smith than Hickock. In Smith’s final biography from the last section before execution Smith claimed that he had weak kidneys, “…& wet the bed every night” (Capote 275), which resulted in humiliation and physical abuse from a nun at one of the Detention Homes. This deeply personal detail creates a connection between the reader and the protagonist and solidifies the relationship between the reader and Smith before Smith’s execution.
Heroes are commonly looked up to for their courageous actions and are significantly missed when they are gone. Bravery is usually the strongest trait in a hero. Capote purposely includes a flashback involving Smith and Hickock in order to depict Smith as a man with heroic characteristics. One day at the beach, Smith “…realized Dick’s purpose” in trying to satisfy “…his sexual interest in female children…” and Smith “…despised him for it”. Smith later “…prevented Dick from raping a terrified young girl”(Capote 201-202). This reference makes the reader admire Smith for his courageous action in protecting the girl against his very own partner in crime. The final representation of Smith as the...
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