The story begins with a description of the landscape in Holcomb, a small, isolated town. The description reflects the tranquility of the place before the murders occurred. Capote alludes to the Greek temples to maybe hint a deeper meaning, like in Greek tragedies.
Mr. Clutter seems to be a successful, well-respected hard worker. He is able to accomplish his goals and dreams of owning a farm and does it successfully. He was brave enough to leave his job and it’s security and join the risky business of owning a farm. He seems like such a well-liked guy that it seems impossible to think he would be murdered.
The tattoos on Perry and Dick reflect the character’s personality. For instance, Dick’s tattoos are simple and show his attempt to look masculine and scary. Perry’s tattoos show his artistic side and truly makes him look strong and scary, unlike Dick’s tattoo.
Willie-Jay was the only person who Perry believed truly understood him. Willie-Jay wrote this sermon to Perry to help him understand himself and prevent him from making bad decisions. Willie-Jay was the only one who believed in him, but when he went to go meet him and he wasn’t there, he was disappointed. This is why Perry agreed to help Dick because he knew he had no one else to go to.
Nancy’s diary is a symbol of the future she will never have. Her different types of handwriting portrays how young she was and how she still didn’t know who she was. This is surprising to know because as a very talented girl, you would never think she would ever feel this way.
The shock of the murders caused the small town to distrust everyone they know. Capote emphasizes how the murders affected the whole community from the beginning with Bobby becoming emotionally damaged and Dewey with all the stress of solving the murder. This story really show how peoples actions can affect everyone.
Mr. Fox’s opinion of the death penalty brings a new perspective on what others think of the criminals. Most people in the town are scared and want them dead. However, Mr. Fox believes that they need to forgive them as God will do to them and that taking another life would do more harm than good. This really questions whether capital punishment is necessary. Capote seems more biased towards the anti-death penalty point of view.
Capote often looks at the past of the criminals to better understand why they did what they did. He especially does this for Perry. Perry’s terrible childhood with no one who was there for him. It can be hard to think that something is wrong with you and can often blame it on someone else.
Barbara and Perry grew up with a terrible childhood without any love and care, yet their lives are so different. This is because Barbara learned to use it as motivation to become better, while Perry is still stuck in those childhood feelings causing him to act out with anger. This is also shown in Dick when he is so fixated on getting rich that he doesn’t realize the consequence. Their childness end up preventing them from succeeding in life and getting caught.
Perry’s childhood prevented him from making lifelong relationships because so many people helped Perry in his life, but he could only see people out there to hurt him.
Perry has created a fantasy of adventure to make up for his unfortunate reality. Dick leads him on that they will get to his dream of finding treasure, but Perry soon realizes that the fantasy is dead. He realizes that they are criminals on the run and none of his dreams are possible anymore.
This shows how big Dick’s ego is and his insecurity of his masculinity. Even though Dick has a caring family, unlike Perry, he cannot be happy with what he has. He looks at the world with jealousy of everyone that causes him to react with violence. He only feels powerful with a weapon.
When Perry finds the silver dollar, he realizes how pathetic he was by stealing from a little girl. This makes him realizes how senseless the crime is.
Dewey can’t help, but feel sympathy for Perry even though he committed such a brutal crime. He believes that maybe something in Perry’s life is the reason for his behavior. This feeling is also shown in the author, Capote, because he wrote many stories about Perry’s terrible childhood, which you can’t help but feel sympathy for him.
Perry explains that since he didn’t know the Clutters that well, he couldn’t really have any compassion for them, just like when soldier go to war and kill people. However, if he had known them, then he would probably feel different. This shows the soft side of Perry and that he accepts what he has done, rather than Dick who tries to blame it all on Perry.
Most of the psychiatrists diagnosed all the death penalty inmates for having schizophrenic. This conveys how little they knew about mental heath back then because schizophrenia isn’t that common.
Capote used unusual diction to illustrate a haunting tone.
Perry understands what he has done and wants to apologize for it. Unlike Dick, Perry regretted what he did, which is why more people have sympathy for him. If only he had never meet Dick, Perry wouldn’t have ended up this way.
Finally, Agent Dewey gets closure as he heads home, leaving behind the case and moving toward the future.
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