Essay about Socratic: In Cold Blood and Mary Anne

Submitted By mrarbok
Words: 1910
Pages: 8

All of the characters in this novel – from the Clutters to the killers – are given a fairly realistic portrayal. How does Capote make these characters come to life for the readers? Do you know any present-day Nancy or Kenyon Clutters? On the other end, does Capote do the impossible – does he successfully cause reader to identify (on some level) with the two killers? • The book is written with several smaller stories strung together. The attention to the physical details of characters and the spaces they occupy makes the book very visually appealing, thus allowing the readers to understand the characters better. • Present day: Ben Chang and his trouble • Descriptions of even the minor characters like the postmistress, the station mistress, and each member of the Clutter family on a typical day of their lives further develop the fabric of the community. • Capote does successfully cause the reader to identify with the killers in a way. His characterization makes us care about Perry Smith, one of the two murderers. This is done with a variety of sources – old letters Perry has kept, dreams and memories he recalls, photos and albums he preserves. • Capote makes us empathize with Perry’s abandonment as a child, the brutality he experienced, and the way his potential was truncated by lack of education. When Dick Hickock mocks and belittles him, we feel Perry’s hurt and see his desperate need for a friend. • The two sides of Perry – the sensitive one and the hostile one are shown. • The power of Capote’s characterization makes us care about the victims but also makes us reject them because of their crimes. 1. Using the book as evidence, were Dick and Perry sane? If they were, what does it suggest about human nature that a sane person could commit the crimes for which they were eventually found guilty? Whether they were sane of not, what – in your opinion – are the root causes of their criminal behavior? How would Perry Smith be different if he was raised in one of the comfortable, loving homes in Clear Lake? • Dick and Perry were sane. • Human nature is very unstable. Humans can do things off of random whims and can be very unpredictable. • The root cause for Perry’s behavior was probably the environmental factors that he grew up in. If he had grown up in a better environment where morals were better taught to him, he would have understood the severity of his actions and might not have done them. The dysfunctional family background was the source of Perry’s irrational anger. o Dick was influenced by father which caused his extreme brutality and reckless abandon. Economic duress seems to have played a bigger role in determining Dick’s chosen path, but the decisive event seems to have been a head injury he received in a car accident, after which, according to his father, he “wasn’t the same boy.” 2. This novel indirectly raises questions about the justice system and capital punishment. Think about The trial and the final punishment of Perry and Dick. Think about the prior arrest records of both men. Think about the nature of their various crimes. Based on the content of this book and your own observations of the news does the criminal justice system need substantial reform? • The criminal justice system does need some substantial reform, specifically in the area of the insanity plea. Since the psychologist is only allowed to respond whether a person insane or not without details, many factors that could affect people’s view on a person could be left out. For this reason, one should be allowed to say more such as a limited number of statements or words. 3. Capote wrote In Cold Blood in the midst of a shifting socio-cultural landscape. On one side was the staid, stoic, and black-and-white decade of the fifties. On the other was the wild, carefree, rebellious decade of the sixties. Does…