Analysis Of The Death Penalty In Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

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Throughout In Cold Blood, Truman Capote hints at his own opinion of the death penalty, yet lets the readers decide for themselves what they believe Hickock and Smith's punishment should have been. When the murderers are being hanged, a conversation occurs between a reporter and an investigator about what it might feel like to be hanged: "'They don't feel nothing. Drop, snap, and that's it. They don't feel nothing.' 'Are you sure? I was standing right close. I could hear him gasping for breath.' 'Uh-huh, but he don't feel nothing. Wouldn't be humane if he did'" (340). Furthermore, Capote includes the amount of time before Lowell Lee Andrews and Dick Hickock died. From the time of hanging to the time their hearts ceased beating, it took nineteen and twenty minutes, respectively. Also, in preparation for the trial of the Clutter family murderers, doctors did psychiatric evaluations of the pair. Capote includes what the doctors would have said had they been allowed to elucidate during the trial. The evaluations suggest that Hickock and Smith might have been better off in a mental institution. By including the conversation at the hangings, the elapsed time before death, and the doctors' unspoken evaluation, Capote suggests that neither the death penalty nor hanging is always the best course of action for a person's crime. Contrastingly, the opposite opinion is revealed through the character Alvin Dewey in the book. Capote writes about Dewey’s beliefs on the case: “[The Clutter family] had experienced prolonged terror, they had suffered. And Dewey…show more content…
Because of the arguments hinted at by Truman Capote in In Cold Blood, there will always be debate on whether capital punishment should be used for certain crimes. One can never be sure if a punishment, whether as mild as jail time or as severe as the death penalty, is justified for the crime

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