Literary Analysis of Truman Capote in Cold Blood
In Cold Blood is a non-fiction story, revealing the real events following the killing of the Clutter family. Although the book is written as if it were a novel, it is basically a nonfiction novel, with a touch of what the author refers to as “New Journalism.” The genre is effective in creating an influential way of telling real events and in the actual portrayal of the society within which it is set. From the novel, Capote has used a lot of literary devices to express his view about the murder, identified right from the setting of the story.
The setting of the story is in Holcomb which portrayed for the first time as a flat town which is very lonely and has a population of 270 people and is based on the western part of Kansas. This shows the familiarity in this setting and the reality that was brought about by the killing of the Clutter family. Basically, the author chooses this setting being the actual place where the murder took place, to bring the events close to the reality.
The town is shown as an old town with a rail way passing in between without a stopover-Capote recognizes it as a good place to live in but not to visit. This is because it has decent social amenities and the residents seem to be trustworthy. It is mainly occupied by the mid class and the affluent that have stable families. Capote takes a lot of time describing the town so as to illustrate the impact of chaos and evil on a formerly peaceful town to show the reality of the crime that occurred here.
The setting of the story is a representation of America in 1950s when the country was highly influenced by racial discrimination. This is indicated by the treatment accorded to Perry who was a biracial in prison. It was, however, a very nice place to be if you were a pure white. This is illustrated in the novel by Herb Clutter, a white male patriarch who enjoys all the fruits of being an American. Basically, the novel is representative of the American life in the 1950s, which is a real event and occurrence in the society.
These two environments affect both Perry and Dick because they feel left out. Neither of them got the opportunity to go college at the time when graduating from a college was considered to be a major success. Dick and Perry also feel out of place because the American society, which favored the affluent and the middle class, does not favor them.
The remaining third of the book is set on the death row which occurred at the Kansas State Penitentiary. It is an environment without crowd and mainly infiltrated with prisoners. Capote brings the intimacy of the place and he describes it in away to make the reader to feel that it is a zoo where the animals are seen going on their daily routines. Dick and Perry finally find themselves here after their long trip of moving around the country. This is not anything unusual for this part of America at the time period within which the novel is set.
The next techniques that Capote uses in this book are symbolism, imagery and allegory. Capote uses symbols to represent ideas and qualities (112-130). This is seen in the book when Perry and Dick go through the room to look for any cash they can encounter along their way. Perry is seen frisking the girl’s room, goes down on knees to reach out on the one silver dollar which he wants to steal. The silver dollar symbolizes anything that is senseless about the killing. How can someone kill a person because of a single silver dollar?
The use of imagery in Cold Blood is used to create a mental image for the reader to assist him to visualize what he meant in his writings. Imagery is identified in Capote’s work when he tells about Perry and Dicks’ life in Mexico to symbolize unrealistic hopes and shuttered dreams of everyone. He is actually trying to suggest that reality bites. For instance, Perry and Dick are sure that when they are in Mexico, they will afford a cheap luxury and because of this, they decide to escape. They however later on come to realize that their thought was a mere fantasy as life there is not always cheap (230).
Perry and Dick both have tattoos. The tattoos drawn on their biceps symbolizes evil. This is because the images they have on their biceps are of sinister characteristics. This includes the pictures of Blue-furred, orange-eyed, red fanged tiger and a spitting snake which is coiled around a dagger and slithered down Perry’s arms. Perry’s tattoo also shows his capability of being evil. In the text, the evil behavior between the two is illustrated when they are portrayed as being murderers.
Capote further uses allegory to give his story multidimensional meaning. In his text, he uses allegory when he uses the Characters Perry and Dick and all their tattoos to give the reader a wider view of the meaning of the book. The remaining third of the book is set on the death row that occurred at the Kansas State Penitentiary. It is an environment without the crowd and mainly infiltrated with prisoners.
He wants to bring in the theme of brutality and unfair justice that existed in America in the 1950s. Nancy’s diary brings in suspense in the story, and it symbolizes the future that Nancy will never have. The function of a diary is to jot down the present events that can be memorized in future but this is not going to happen to Nancy since she may not live to see that future. Capote brings the intimacy of the place and he describes it in away to make the reader feel that it is zoo where the animals are seen going on their daily routines. Dick and Perry finally find themselves here after their long trip of moving around the country.
Shmoop Editorial Team. “Nancy’s Diary In Cold Blood.” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.
Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood: A true Account of Multiple Murder. USA: Tansaction Publishers, 2009. Print.