“The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call ‘out there.’ . . .The land is flat, the views are awesomely extensive; horses, herds of cattle, a white cluster of grain elevators rising as gracefully as Greek temples are visible long before a traveler reaches them.” pg. 3
The book begins and ends with descriptions of the landscape; the serenity of the plains is an unlikely setting for a tragedy, which makes it all the more disturbing when one does occur. The book starts by taking the “long view” of its subjects, outlining them from a distance before eventually zooming in to probe the microscopic details of the case, a trajectory that reflects Capote's own dealings with the residents of Holcomb and Garden City. Here, also, Capote compares the landscape to that of ancient Greece, indicating that the story contained in these pages has larger significance as an examination of timeless human themes.
“This hitherto peaceful congregation of neighbors and old friends had suddenly to endure the unique experience of distrusting each other; understandably, they believed that the murderer was among themselves.” pg. 88
The Clutter killings wreak havoc on the security of Holcomb, fragmenting the community and sowing the first seeds of doubt and suspicion. In allegorical terms, the residents of Holcomb experience a kind of fall from grace, and a loss of their former innocence, as for the first time they are forced to confront the unseemly reality of the killers and the world they represent.
“‘Deal me out, baby,’ Dick said. ‘I’m a normal.’ And Dick meant what he said. He thought of himself as balanced, as sane as anyone—maybe a bit smarter than the average fellow, that’s all. But Perry—there was, in Dick’s opinion, ‘something wrong’ with Little Perry.” pg. 108
Dick uses Perry as a foil for his own self-image, often belittling or impugning him for his more eccentric, “childish,” or effeminate qualities,...
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