Nancy Clutter

In Cold Blood Characterization Activity

Sarah Durkin

Nancy Clutter did it all. She was her school's class president, lead the local 4-H program and Young Methodist League, played the piano and clarinet, was a skilled rider, was an annual winner at the county fair and practically ran "that big house." She was considered the "Town Sweetheart." She did it all with out brag and was considered to have high character.

Capote describes Nancy more than any other member of the Clutter family with the exception of Herb. Nancy represents more than achievement and promise. She represents small town values and culture. She represents the American dream. She is what most in a small suburban town like Holcomb aspire to be. She works hard and aspires to be the best she can be. She is well respected and contributes to the Clutter's esteemed reputation. "Where she found the time, and still managed to "practically run that big house" and be a straight-A student, the president of her class, a leader in the 4-H program and the Young Methodists league, a skilled rider, an excellent musician (piano, clarinet), an annual winner at the county fair (pastry, preserves, needlework, flower arrangement)—how a girl not yet seventeen could haul such a wagonload, and do so without "brag," with rather, merely a radiant jauntiness, was an enigma the community pondered, and solved by saying, "She's got character. Gets it from her old man"" (Capote 20). Capote creates such a contrast between Nancy and her mother Bonnie to show the extent of lost potential that Dick and Perry imposed through their murder.

Nancy had brown hair that curled at the ends, sparkling eyes, and a wide girlish smile. "Nancy was a pretty girl, lean and boyishly agile, and the prettiest things about her were her short-bobbed, shining chestnut hair (brushed a hundred strokes each morning, the same number at night) and her soap-polished complexion, still faintly freckled and rose-brown from last summer's sun" (Capote 19). She was simple, not extravagant (just like "small town folk"). She laughed and loved life. She wanted everyone else to love life too. There wasn't a mean bone in her body. From the surface, Nancy represented the stereotypical "small town;" flawless, innocent, and efficient. However, dive deep and you'll see the how direct the correlation is between Nancy and the town of Holcomb. Nancy has her flaws and Holcomb does as well. Nancy's flaw expressed in In Cold Blood is normal for her age; boy trouble. She has a boyfriend that her father doesn't approve of; the Clutters are Methodist and Bobby is Catholic. Holomb's flaws expressed in In Cold Blood include habits of gossip and trusting too much.


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