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In Cold Blood Conflict: Nature vs Nurture

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on 16 September 2014

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Transcript of In Cold Blood Conflict: Nature vs Nurture

In Cold Blood Conflict: Nature vs Nurture
Perry's character is generally portrayed as one to sympathize with.
His terrible upbringing and lack of a nurturing background is brought up multiple times in the novel.
According to Capote, Perry's unfortunate childhood is a factor which drove him to become a criminal, and ultimately murder the Clutter family.
This correlation between the type of upbringing someone has and their behavior as an adult is brought up several times in the novel, and is almost used as a justification for Perry's actions.
Dick's character is portrayed as the evil motivator of the crime.
Since he did not have any significantly troubling childhood, it was often referenced that Dick was a criminal because it was in his nature.
His nurturing childhood was brought up several times, he even making statements about how good his family was to him.
Unlike Perry, there is little sympathy created for Dick's character since there was little to be sympathetic of. It is simply in Dick's nature to be a criminal.
The Murders, Perry Smith to the left and Richard Hickock to the right.
Clutter Memorial
The Clutter house
What is Conflict?
Conflict is is a literary element that involves a struggle between two opposing forces. In this presentation we will analyze the conflict: Nature vs. Nurture in
In Cold Blood
by Truman Capote. In order to do this, one must look into whether the criminals, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, were driven to murder because of nature or nurture(their upbringing).
Dick example 2
"Mr. Hickok spent three hours with his son..."having your boy hang, knowing he will, nothing worse can happen to a man" (258-259)
This quote describes the scene of Mr. Hickock spending time with Dick. Mr. Hickock attacks Perry for being the real culprit, after Dick told him that Perry was the one who murdered the Clutters.
Mr. Hickock continued to love his son even after the heinous crime he committed, which portrays Dick’s loving family and the loving nurture he was given.
Therefore, a lack of nurture can be ruled out as motivation for the crime, leading one to believe that it was in his nature to kill. Dick himself says, “I know it is wrong...It seems to be an impulse” (278), stating his involuntary desire to do harm upon others.
Perry example 2
"Nonetheless, he found it possible to look at the man beside him without anger-with, rather a measure of sympathy-for Perry Smith's life had been no bed of roses but pitiful, an ugly and lonely progress toward one mirage and then another." (246)
Contrary to Hickock’s situation, Perry’s mental condition is a result of a traumatic childhood.
This quote shows the sympathy that he was able to receive because of his terrible childhood. It was understandable to even a KBI agent that Perry’s background is what drove him to commit murder.
Therefore, it is apparent that Perry’s lack of a nurturing family and childhood caused him to commit crimes, rather than his own human nature.
Dick Example 1
"The glory of having everybody at his mercy, that's what excited him" (239)
This is a statement made by Perry about Dick.
It explains how Dick likes the feeling of power he receives from threatening people and committing crimes. It is in Dick’s nature to want to subdue others onto his own will.
As stated previously when the pair was in Florida “Why should that "big-shot bastard" have all the luck? With a knife in his hand, he, Dick, had power. Big-shot bastards like that had better be careful or he might ‘open them up and let a little of their hick spill on the floor’” (126)
Dick’s desire to have power is part of his nature and is what drives him to continue to commit crimes.
Perry Example 1
“Mrs. Meier explained that the cats were hunting for dead birds caught in the vehicles’ engine grilles. Thereafter it pained him to watch their maneuvers: “Because most of my life I’ve done what they’re doing. The equivalent.” (264)
In this excerpt, Perry is watching stray cats feeding off dead bird from his jail cell.
He responds by stating that he can relate to these cats because he too has lived off of scraps his entire life. From being denied an education and abused in his orphanage, Perry suffered just as much as these unfortunate cats, who have no choice but to dine on deceased birds that were caught in the engine grilles.
Knowing he is stuck in his jail cell, Perry empathizes with these desperate creatures. Perry’s suffering and pain was always a result of the lack of nurture and support he received from the people in his life.
Overall, it is clear that Capote creates roles for each of the criminals in terms of the conflict nature vs. Nuture. Perry serves as the example of a non-nurturing childhood creating a person capable of even murder, while Dick serves as an example of the opposite, the case of it just being a person's nature to kill. Capote uses this conflict to show the complexity of the criminals, and show the reader what motivates the killers.
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