The Theme Of Death In Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

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In the village of Holcomb, Kansas a wealthy family, the Clutters, was murdered on November 14, 1959. Dick Hickock and Perry Smith were convicted of these murders and received the death penalty. In Truman Capote’s novel In Cold Blood, the audience receives different viewpoints on why Dick and Perry either deserved the death penalty or not. Though the decision to sentence someone to death should be based on the truth, the truth is not always easy to define; Capote shows this through his depiction of the controversial executions of Dick Hickock and Perry Smith. Criminal punishment is an immensely ongoing controversial and societal issue in the United States, Europe and other parts of the world. There are thirty-one states that have kept the…show more content…
Throughout the book, Perry is genuinely the cold-blooded killer, and the reader 's view him that way. While in interrogation, Dick confessed that “ Perry Smith killed the Clutters...It was Perry” (Capote 230). At this point, the audience doesn’t know if they believe that Perry killed all four or if Perry killed two and Dick killed two. While talking in the interrogation room, Dewey mentioned to Perry that “Hickock [thought of Perry as] a natural born killer. [He said] it [didn’t] bother Perry a bit” (Capote 255). Dick is honestly trying to make Perry look very guilty instead of him. Even though Perry killed all four of the Clutters, Capote was still against the death penalty for Perry. Capote was also biased throughout the story because of his “relationship” with Perry. An example of Capote’s bias is when he wrote that “Dewey, a believer in capital punishment, its purported deterrent effects, and its justice, witnessed the hangings” but he could not watch Perry’s hanging. Dewey closed his eyes; “ he kept them shut until he heard the thud-snap that announces a rope-broken neck” (McClain). In addition to this, Capote mentions that Dewey could find it “ possible to look at [Perry] beside him without anger,with, rather, a measure of sympathy” (Capote 246). Dewey didn’t feel that way towards Dick even though he didn 't commit the murders. Capote’s bias makes the audience feel more sympathetic towards Perry and more hatred towards Dick, even though Perry is the killer. Another reason why readers believed that Perry shouldn’t have received capital punishment is because he has a mental illness. The court dismisses the plea quickly because “the justice system ignores psychosocial complexities and histories in favor of black and white definitions of right and wrong” (Myers). The justice system in this time very rarely accepted pleas of insanity or mental illness. Capote wrote that “after an hour’s conversation with the defendants, the doctor rule[d] out that neither man
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