The Clutter Family Roles In Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

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The nonfiction novel, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, takes place in the small and quiet town of Holcomb, Kansas. Capote takes the reader through the sequence of events that transpired before, during, and after the members of the Clutter family are unexpectedly murdered on November 15, 1959. He describes in detail the background of each of the main characters, which helps to clarify the motives of Richard Hickock and Perry Smith as they murder the Clutters. He illustrates how a positive or negative influence of an individual’s environment, lifestyle, and occasionally family can impact them into adulthood. These influences can determine the role that a person plays in society whether it is becoming a contributing member of society or …show more content…

Herb is a devout Methodist and actively participates in his church congregation. He, along with his family “did not smoke, and of course did not drink … and were inclined to avoid people who had” (Capote 10). This illustrated how innocent and pure his and his family’s intentions are. The Clutters never try to take advantage of or harm others, but always try to help them. Nancy even spends her last day alive giving piano and baking lesson to children from school. To the village of Holcomb, the Clutters may have been considered an innocent and charitable family. However, this lifestyle that Smith and Hickock envy is what motivates them to murder the Clutters.
Perry Smith has a family that is contradictory to the Clutters, which leads to him becoming one of the murderers. He is born to Florence and John, who were part of a traveling rodeo. After they retired from performing and settled down, his mother becomes an alcoholic and files for divorce with his father because he is abusive. At age 13, Smith’s mother chokes on her own vomit and dies, as a result, he is sent to a Catholic orphanage. After residing with nuns, who beat him and emotionally scared him, he develops “an aversion to nuns. And God. And religion” (Capote 132). This dislike of conventional religion leads him to create his own, in the form of a large yellow bird that comes and liberates him from danger.

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