Use of Characterization in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood Essay examples

944 Words 4 Pages
In Cold Blood:  Effective Use of Characterization   

Capote's extensive characterization is a key element of In Cold Blood. The characters can be divided into three groups: the Clutter family, the two murderers, and the characters who were emotionally attached to the murder. Each killer's psyche is researched by Capote, and each is individualized by his specific psyche.

Capote goes to great lengths to show that the townspeople viewed the Clutter family as an ideal American family. Mr. Herbert Clutter was the most successful farmer in Holcomb: "He was, however, the community's most widely known citizen, prominent both there and in Garden City, the close dash by county seat..." (6). Capote details his numerous
…show more content…
Bonnie Clutter, wife of Herbert. Capote characterizes her emotionally, rather than physically: a good-spirited woman, plagued with chronic depression, who heartily attempted to fight her disorder and felt extreme love for her husband and children. However, according to Capote, Mrs. Clutter felt other people did not like her, and while she tried to earn their love, she often scared them with with her words.

Capote goes to great efforts to show the admiration which the community held for the Clutter family, one of the elements which made the murders so shocking. Everybody socialized with the Clutter family. For example, Mr. Clutter's friend Mrs. Ashida felt comfortable telling Mr. Clutter her conflict with her husband regarding the Ashida family's possible move, confiding that people like his family are the reason she wishes to stay in Holcomb.

The author's details in presenting the two killers are also vivid. Capote focuses on their physical appearance and differences. Dick Hickock was a "flimsy, dingy-blond youth of medium height, flesh less, and perhaps sunken chested" (30). He also had many tattoos--a hand, torso, and other places. "There is an ironic element into the inscription on one of Hickock's tattoos... 'the word PEACE accompanied by a cross radiating , in the form of crude strokes, rays of holy light.'" (Reed 108). Hickock's head looked as if it "has been halved like an apple, put together a fraction off center" (31). The author
Open Document