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Diana Leon

Literature-3/4
4 May, 2016
Reader Response
The novel, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, delivers a true but terrifying event about the
Clutters that occurred in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959. Throughout the novel Capote delivers many
ideas of the story timeline on how the murder was brought up and its before and after
occurrences. Not only has the structure of The Clutters history, Dick and Perrys adventures, and
the case of the murder brings the reader into the story itself, also also engages the reader in
feeling the emotions and reality of the horrendous incident. After realizing that the imaginative
fiction novel is a telling of a true event, each part of the book is seen in a new light. It also
demonstrates how this incident that happened so many years ago, can still relatable and viewed
as something as real as today.
The chapter, The Last To See Them Alive, explains the Clutters life; how they were as a
family, what they were known for, illustrating how such a normal life can be seen so practical
when it's not. Who would have thought that a family so respected and well known would be a
target for someone to even think about killing them. As Capote mentions, We walked right in,
and I saw right away that the Clutters hadnt eaten breakfast; there were no dishes, nothing on
the stove. Then I noticed something funny: Nancys purse. It was lying on the floor, sort of open.
We passed on through the dining room, and stopped at the bottom of the stairs.His daughter
shouted, Shes dead! and flung herself into his arms (Capote 59-60). The reader already feels
the suspension about the Clutters unusual setting. Just imaging your own house and where each
item is placed and having someone you know walking inside and finding their loved one dead is
such an upsetting thing to think about. Even if this is an imaginative fiction novel, the reader can
still relate to it and feel the intensity of the situation. Even before this, the reader could already
imagine someone in their life that could have been described the same way as Mr. Clutter

Diana Leon
Literature-3/4
4 May, 2016
making that a connection to the book. Just as Mr. Clutter is described as, His shoulders were
broad, his hair had held its dark color, his square-jawed, confident face retained a healthy-hued
youthfulness, and his teeth, unstained and strong enough to shatter walnuts, were still intact
(Capote 6). The reader could have someone they know have the same features as Mr. Clutter or
just know that someone in their life could have been killed as well. The fact that Capote is
writing the true side of the case makes the reader realize that this story actually happened and
could happen anywhere.
As much as the reader knows about the Clutters already, they also get a sense of safety
concerned about themselves. Anyone can relate to that feeling of being concerned about their
safety. Who wouldnt? You hear a family of four were murdered and you dont think you would
be cautious from then on. As the townspeople mention, But who hated the Clutters? I never
heard a word against them; they were about as popular as a family can be, and if something like
this could happen them, then whos safe, I ask you? (Capote 70). Viewing other people's
perspective in this situation makes the reader also feel that same way. If people thought that a
family known for who they were, waskilled all of a sudden makes you wonder what else could
happen in your surroundings. Not only that, but it also makes you question whether the people
around you are the ones you should be trusting.
Capote also introduces many other characters involved with the Clutters murder. Even if
these people have something to do with the murder or not, there are many who are suspects, one
of which is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clutter, Nancy Clutter. Her boyfriend, Bobby was
brought up by the police. As Capote mentions, Many friends of the Clutter family, and strangers
from all over Finney County as well, had assembled at the site, but none was allowed past the
barricade, which, soon after the arrival of the Rupp brother, was briefly lifted to permit the exit

Diana Leon
Literature-3/4
4 May, 2016
of four ambulances, the number finally required to remove the victims, and a car filled with the
men from the sheriff's office-men who, even at the moment, were mentioning the name of Bobby
Rupp. For Bobby, as he was to learn before nightfall, was their principal suspect (Capote 72).
For the reader to understand that someone as close to the Clutters such as the daughters
boyfriend is considered a suspect is very suspicious.
Not only has Capote mentioned people related to the Clutters, but he also introduces two
other men that seem to be involved. He describes Perry Smith as, But some sections of him
were not in proportion to others. His tiny feet, encased in short black boots with steel buckles,
would have neatly fitted into a delicate ladys dancing slipper; when he stood up, he was no taller
than a twelve-year-old child, and suddenly looked, strutting on stunted legs that seemed
grotesquely inadequate to the grown-up bulk they supported, not like a well-built truck driver but
like a retired jockey, overblown and muscle-bound (Capote 15). Already knowing that Perry
could be one of the murderers gives the reader a new perspective in the case. The reader can
visualize this person walking down some area and not even notice or think about them being a
killer. Now knowing that anyone you meet could be a killer, makes people cautious about their
every move.
Since Capote did investigate this case and followed up with Dick and Perry, he was able
to gather information about them two and their own surroundings. He adds,He had merely
fallen face down across the bed, as though sleep were a weapon that had struck him from behind.
The boots, black and silver-buckled, we're soaking in a washbasin filled with warm, vaguely
pink-tinted water (Capote 73). Knowing that there was a footprint found in the Clutters home
when it was being inspected and now finding out that Perry was washing out his boot that left a

Diana Leon
Literature-3/4
4 May, 2016
light pinkish color-which could have been red (indicating blood) is a part of the case. The reader
can visualize how the killers are after their killing.
Now that the reader has had a glimpse of the murder case, when the court decides
whether or not Dick and Perry are either innocent or guilty. By this point in the book it has
seemed like the reader has felt a connection for the Clutters and visualizing Dick and Perry but
now they will when they come apart of the days the court was held and discussed. As Capote
mentioned, Friday, May 13th, the first date set for the execution of Smith and Hickock, passed
harmlessly, the Kansas Supreme Court having granted them a stay pending the outcome of
appeals for a new trial filed by their lawyers. At that time the Andrews verdict was under review
by the same court (Capote 317). In someones life, if this were to ever happen to them, they
would be able to understand the stress that will be there on the day of their trial. Not only could it
be a hectic day but everyone else wants to know the story as well, relatives, strangers,
acquaintances, and even reporters. You dont need this situation to occur in order to feel this type
of tension, weve all been there some point in our lives. The reader could imagine how this day
would be like for the people who lived in Holcomb. However this not the only example for the
reader to feel how Holcomb must have felt on the day of the trial. Capote mentions, Two years
passed. The departures of Wilson and Spencer left Smith and Hickock and Andrews alone with
the Rows burning lights and veiled windows. The privileges granted ordinary prisoners were
denied them; no radios or card games, not even an exercise period--indeed, they were never
allowed out of their cells (Capote 320). For two years to pass by and wait for Perry and
Dicks execution with them both just sitting by in their cells must feel so agonizing for people to
consider thinking about. The reader can feel the same connection everyone in Holcomb,
especially for close members to the Clutter family.

Diana Leon
Literature-3/4
4 May, 2016
Not only has Capote demonstrated the same connections a reader can feel for a
imaginative fiction story but he has also included in understanding and feeling the emotions and
visualizing what actually occurred during and after the murder of the Clutter family.

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