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In Cold Blood
Transcript of In Cold Blood
Perry’s retelling is embellished with relatable anecdotes pointing to peer pressure, insecurity, and other classic human struggles as being the reasoning behind the murder. These ideas are displayed in this passage through
diction, imagery, irony,
and other literary devices solidifying the theme that ‘evil’ is often not sinister, but an extreme ,yet human, response to struggle and despair.
In this passage Perry’s nuanced retelling of the story finally answers the key question that has been asked throughout this novel: Why did they do it? Perry calmly and clearly recounts the murder. However, despite Perry’s perplexing relaxed manner of retelling the murder, his reasoning behind how he managed to go through with it is surprisingly human and relatable.
Passage Rhetorical Analysis - Perry Smith
Denial & Mental Instability
"I'm thinking. I want to remember this just the way it was."
Does not embellish, adheres to the truth.
"The letter was from Dick, and he said he was on to a cinch. The perfect score."
Dick's language / diction, shows perspective and denial on action.
"Only that otherwise I wouldn't have gone back there. But I did. "
Short, choppy syntax
"But they didn't want me there. I'm very sensitive; I usually know what people are feeling."
Ironic. Specific about what he stands up for (rape/murder)
IN COLD BLOOD
"Smith smokes with closed eyes, and explains, "I'm thinking. I want to remember this just the way it was." He pauses for quite a while" (Capote 235).
"But they didn't want me there. I'm very sensitive; I usually know what people are feeling" (Capote 235)
"The letter was from Dick, and he said he was on to a cinch. The perfect score" (Capote 235)
Imagery humanizes Perry
Pensive/relief/exhaustion. Gives him emotion
"Dick took me to a hotel in Olathe. We bought some beer and carried it up to the room, and that's when Dick outlined what he had in mind. He said after I'd left Lansing he celled with someone who'd once worked for a wealthy wheat grower out in western Kansas" (Capote 235).
Theme: Peer Pressure & Human Weakness
Relatable - Human fault/common experience
Portrayal - Alien vs. Human (animal vs. human)
Specific choice of diction allows Capote to cast a more relatable light on Perry and shift the blame of murder to Dick. Whereas normal people would be revolted at this gruesome a subject, Dick construes this as an easy and consequence-less opportunity - a ‘perfect score’. The carefreeness feel of this statement underscores Dick’s inhumane cruelty and capability of murder.
"Dick must have said it a million times: 'No witnesses.'"
"a million times” expresses Dick’s fixed intent to kill anyone who gets in the way.
"You hate handing me a butt. That's your business. I don't blame you. Any more than I blamed Dick's mother."
Use of metonymy is to emphasize the causes behind the murders - that peer pressure, insecurity, and other classic human struggles were reasons for murder.
“doors, halls, bedrooms” demonstrates Dick’s extensive knowledge of the Clutter’s home. This knowledge is attributed to Dick, showing us that it wasn’t Perry that planned the murder.
-”a million times” expresses Dick’s fixed intent to kill anyone who gets in the way.