Capital Punishment In Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

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Hannah Yoon Mr. Afram AP Lang 18 May 2023 In “Warm” Blood The question of whether capital punishment is more “cold-blooded” than the crime committed to receiving such punishment came to a rise with the murders of the Clutter family in 1959. Taking the opportunity of such context, Truman Capote documented the account of the murder of the Clutters and the trials that followed in his experimental “nonfiction novel”, In Cold Blood, to portray crime events in a narrative manner. Though one would assume the title of this book implies the “cold-blooded" murderers, a deeper reading reveals the idea that it may instead suggest the cold-bloodedness of capital punishment. Throughout his work, Capote weaves his message of immorality regarding the death …show more content…

He used Perry Smith’s autobiographical statement, which summarized events from his past that revealed his dark childhood. Perry wrote that he was often beaten by his father, sent to detention homes where “every night was a nightmare”, and had an absent mother who was “always drunk, never in a fit condition to properly provide and care for us” (274-275). This inclusion of Perry’s personal anecdote extensively appeals to the audience's feeling of pity for his hardships by displaying a more hurt and emotional side to him rather than portraying him as an incompassionate killer. This display evokes wariness when Perry is sentenced to death because the audience has a greater understanding of the situation that developed his character and reflects on the injustice of executing a troubled man who could have improved his life through rehabilitation instead of punishment. Thus, Capote’s use of Perry's personal anecdotes encourage readers to consider whether capital punishment is ideal by appealing to pity and understanding of Perry as more than a "cold-blooded" …show more content…

Perry described seeing a “golden bird” in his hard times, which he described as a golden parrot that “gently lifted him, enfolded him, and winged him away to ‘paradise’” (93). This bird is portrayed as a savior-like figure to Perry, implying his longing for someone to look up to and be understood as he grew up, which would later lead to his admiration of Dick as someone who would listen to him. This inclusion of symbolism is significant because it presents a vulnerable, child-like characteristic of Perry, mirroring his traumatic past, and emphasizes his portrayal of Perry as a man who felt genuine remorse and disgust when committing the murders. It also contributes to the mood of sympathy because Perry’s softness and vulnerability led him to be meekly pressured by Dick to invade the Clutters’ home and eventually commit their murder. This results in apprehensiveness by the audience about the Perry's execution and emphasizes Capote’s message as it evokes a perspective against capital punishment. Perry’s hardships play an extensive role in creating conflict within the audience about the death penalty, which is amplified by Capote’s use of symbolism to portray Perry as vulnerable and encourage even more

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