Summary Of Capital Punishment In Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

What constitutes cruel and unusual punishment? To Truman Capote, capital punishment came in direct violation of the 8th Amendment, regardless of the crime.. This was evident when he graphically described the hanging of Lowell Lee Andrews, a cellmate of the murderers in In Cold Blood. When initially written, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood was a revolutionary novel. By exploring the quadruple murder which shocked a quiet Kansas town, Capote brought the genre of true crime to life as well as the “nonfiction novel.” He was able to manipulate the readers to engage them by painting the details in a different light than previously seen. By becoming intimate and friendly with the killers, he took America inside the minds of those who had been dismissed …show more content…
Throughout the entire writing process, when conducting interviews to the residents of Holcomb or the murderers themselves, Capote “[transcribed] conversation without using a tape recorder” and claimed to have “95 percent accuracy” (Plimpton 3). While certainly impressive, it raises questions about many of the smaller details that Capote chose to write about. For example, many of the dialogues and scenes may have been made up, to help strengthen his argument against capital punishment. One such conversation can be found right before Perry and Dick were sentenced to death. Two men were discussing the penalty that they deserved, and while one argued that death was the only option because they “killed four people in cold blood” the other argued that hanging both of them was “pretty goddam cold-blooded too” (Capote 306). Whether or not the scene actually occurred, this was one of the many subtle ways Capote infused his opinion into the novel. It reveals that the title of the book is actually referring to the killing of Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, whom Capote believed were unjustly killed. Additionally, Capote describes as what he perceived as unfairness in the trial throughout the last section. He references how the lawyers “did not desire to serve”, and how some of the jury members had a personal connection to Mr. Clutter (Capote 257). Perhaps Capote’s biggest attempt to convince the audience that the two men should not have been put to death was when he included what the psychiatrist would have said in the courtroom, had he been allowed. The law in Kansas only allowed doctors to respond yes or no to whether or not a person was sane, and the psychiatrists confirmed that Dick and Perry were both sane at the time of the murders. However, Capote ingeniously included what the psychiatrist would have said. He classified Dick as “above average in

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