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The Motivations for Murder in Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood”

Jul 10, 2023 | 0 comments

Jul 10, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

Truman Capote’s book, “In Cold Blood by” reveals a true murder story of a character’s family living in Holcomb – the Clutters. The story is about the homicide of four members of Clutter family, the murderous, and the prime actions to the killings. Dick and Perry were the killers but gave no proof of their connection to the events. Dick is the pursuit of carnal pleasure including lust, vanity, and greed for money. Perry, however, has a description of a small but delicate person. He is in the quest for love and acceptance hence plays gentle and calm. They both played great roles in planning and performing the homicide. This essay seeks to explore the factors that instigated Perry to murder the Clutter family, clearly portraying the two murders’ pre-event, during and post-events actions.


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According to Capote, Perry was angry at the world: his childhood was a hell of living. The experience of his rejection and mistreatment by caregivers made him develop life hatred to his family. “….but the old guy who played the prospect, the one who reminded Perry of his father, was terrific, too.” Pg. 78. He had a feeling of insecurity and frequently received a vision about a huge bird that provides his safety from dangerous people. Perry’s attitude of anger prompted him to kill Clutter’s family in spite of their plea. He perceived a lack of parental care and guidance in his childhood as the main cause of the empty feeling in him.

The death of Clutter’s family resulted from Dick’s instigations for greed to clear the evidence. After he had overheard about the big score at the ranch of the disease, he called Perry to plan a robbery. Perry describes the persuasion to engage in the killing as an enmity confrontation, “(Dick) was holding the knife. I asked him for it, and gave me.” Pg. 244. The intention of the misconduct was stealing from the ranch without causing any harm, but Dick had the urge to commit violence. Besides, he wanted confirmation that about his friend’s ability to kill, after they shared their past criminal stories. At first, he turned down his friend’s suggestion to disguise their faces by wearing stocking but Perry’s incredible words lured him to the request. The motives of crime came from Dick, who has blood lust and greed for money.

Perry’s reasons for participating in the homicide was for his affections for Dick. He wanted a longer stay with his friend for a reunion. There is a clear evidence on Capone’s quote, “The crime was a psychological accident …” Pg. 246. Perry’s main motivation was to take his friend to Mexico, where they would search for treasure and spend time skin diving. Just as a female would evaluate two probable suitors, he compares Dick’s behaviors such as his tendency to call him “honey,” with that of Willie. His affection for male friends makes him appear to have homosexual tendencies.

Capote gives a clear account of the killers by portraying their relationship. He considers motivations, mindsets, and feeling as the major factor that stimulated robbery with violence. He explored on the events that lead to the murder, the real actions, and effects of the homicide to both parties. The story ended up like that of villains and victims since both parties ended up dead as the main effect of the crime.

In conclusion, Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” presents a haunting true story of murder, delving into the motivations and actions of the killers, Perry and Dick. Through meticulous research and vivid storytelling, Capote explores the factors that instigated Perry’s anger and resentment, as well as Dick’s greed and lust for violence. The complex relationship between the two murderers is portrayed, revealing Perry’s affection for his friend and his desire for a sense of acceptance. Ultimately, the consequences of their heinous crime resulted in the tragic loss of the Clutter family and their own demise. Capote’s exploration of these motivations serves as a chilling reminder of the depths of human darkness and the destructive power it can unleash. “In Cold Blood” stands as a timeless testament to the complexities of the human psyche and the devastating consequences that can arise from unchecked emotions and desires.

Work sited:

Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood: A True Account of Multiple Murder and Its Consequences. New York: New American Library, 1980.

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