In Cold Blood

By Truman Capote

Authors Purpose

The Author, Capote, wanted to write a "nonfiction novel." At the time of publication, this murder case was huge in the news world, and in every newspaper. Capote knew that many readers had already known the facts of the case, so he used some expert journalism to uncover details about the killers that would never had been included in the newspapers.

Evidence of Capote's Purpose

Through out the novel, Capote includes details of the gruesome murders and of the murderers that were not included in the newspapers, and shocked many readers. Some quotes that strengthen this point are:


  • "He 'loathed' Barbara,...'The only real regret that I have--I wish the hell my sister had been in that house.'" (pg. 143) This is a gruesome fact that not only was not included in the article printed at the time, but was one that really expounded on Perry's character.
  • "Like Mr. Clutter, the man breakfasting in a cafe called the Little Jewel never drank coffee." (pg. 14) This quote seems strange to most readers, only in the sense that to show that Mr. Clutter and Perry, his eventual killer, would have something in common, making him seem like less of a monster and more of a twisted human being.
  • "'I think the main reason I went there was not to rob but to rape the girl.'" (pg. 278) When this detail came to surface with Dr. Jones' interview with Dick, it probably shocked most readers to learn that not only did he want to rape Bonnie, but that a ruthless killer like Perry stopped him from doing so.
  • "Perry, still reclining under the blue umbrella, had observed the scene and realized Dick's purpose at once, and despised him for it;.." (pg. 201) It's always strange to see Perry's underlying human nature come out in certain points in the book, even though he had no such reaction to murdering the Clutter Family.

Synopsis

In Cold Blood starts by laying out the scene of Holcomb, Kansas and the lives of the Clutter Family. As this happens, Capote also elaborates on the killers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, and there plan to murder this innocent family. A day after Perry and Dick arrive in Holcomb, the bodies are found by two of Bonnie Clutters friends. As the police, and KBI Agent Alvin Dewey, start a seemingly dead end investigation, the killers make their way first to Olathe then to Mexico. As they flee, a prison mate of theirs, Floyd Wells, hears about the murders and has a gut feeling that Dick is responsible. He starts to contemplate going to the authorities. Perry and Dick soon run out of money in Mexico and prepare to head back into the states. As they do, Floyd tells Agent Dewey his suspicions and Dewey starts a nationwide manhunt. The killers are eventually caught in Las Vegas after a policewoman recognizes their license plate and turns them in to the authorities. After they are in custody, they are put on trial and easily convicted. The sentence was death. The killers sat on Death Row for approximately five years and hung on April 14, 1965.