July 21th 2012
In Cold Blood Essay
Truman Capote’s characters, Perry Smith and Dick Hancock, create a way in which their “contributions to society”, within their personal lives as well as in their surrounding community, lead them to a fatal state of regret, remorse, actuality, and their delayed demise. All of which were consequences caused by their very own actions and decisions to murder the Clutter family. Capote created sympathy for the family by showing the citizens of Holcomb’s anger, sadness and fear following the murder of the clutter family. Capote creates empathy for the characters by giving background information on the both of them, in which they were both described and treated as abuse victims (Perry) and or social rejects for their failures in life, which are evident in their divorces, previous time as convicts, and the poisonous childhood of Perry. Truman’s characters, Perry and Dick, provided their contribution to society and Holcomb community by murdering the Clutter family. Upon hearing the news of the murder of the “perfect” family, who many would describe as being “‘real fond of Herb and Bonnie [Clutter]… and saw them every Sunday at church, and even if [one] hadn’t known the family, and liked them so well, [they] wouldn’t feel any [less sad]’” (Capote 80), members of the community feel insecure, unprotected and eventually come to the realization of reality that they are in fact not all perfect individuals living in a perfect community. The people in the Clutters’ small Texas community look down upon both Perry and Dick without even knowing that they were the murderers at the time, simply because they committed a crime that caused heartache and sorrow to those who knew the family. Whether it was the illegal crimes the characters committed or the disappointment of the community regarding Dick and Perry’s insolence in thinking they were doing the people of Holcomb a favor by killing the clutter family, it brought them satisfaction for a while. Once Perry and Dick completed the murder, a sense of gratification came over the two due to their accomplishment of getting away with murdering an entire family. However I believe that Perry always felt guilty for murdering the family and following Dicks lead. Their so called victory didn’t last long anyways. Throughout the book, Dick seemed to bask more in their risky murder escapade than Perry did, who Capote described as someone who had the ability to obtain his moral values during his time spent with Dick, yet finding a way, usually by listening to Dicks ideas, to continuously obliterate his own good conscience in hopes of not feeling guilty and full of regret for committing a murder. This creates a feeling of sympathy towards Perry, because if he had felt loved as a child and not been treated so maliciously as a child by the nuns who looked after him, perhaps he would’ve not have been in jail and never would’ve met Dick and wouldn’t have killed the clutter family. It is evident to the reader that Perry is always nervous before he and Dick engage in any illegal actions. These uncertain feelings cause Perry to indulge in a panic, in which he envisions a possible situation, such as one that could involve “Dick in the hands of the law, perhaps arrested while writing a phony check, or for committing a minor traffic violation and found to be driving a “hot” car” (Capote 193), which could easily result in the pair’s arrest. On the contrary, it is apparent that throughout Perry and Dick’s mighty “journey” of trying to pass with first-degree murder, not at any time did Dick seem to come in contact with any struggles, which may also led to Dick’s carefree attitude. An attitude in which being carefree not only led to his blunt confession of murdering the Clutter family, but also that he was carefree of death, which is the punishment both he and Perry received once found, which helped to create anger and hostility toward dick from the reader. Individuality in any given community is exceptionally important and should be treasured and well kept. It has the ability to make or break a home, a family, a relationship and, of course, a community in this case. Dick Hancock is to Perry the snake in the Garden of Eden that persuades Eve to eat of the proverbial forbidden fruit. Dick, the most controlling of the pair, persuaded Perry to do something that went against his original judgment and conscience. Both Perry and Dick ended up dead because of a murder they committed together. I believe that Capote achieved his goal of both sympathy and anger through this.