Analysis Of Truman Capote’s Novel in Cold Blood
Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood describes the murder of an affluent family committed by Dick Hickock and Perry Smith. The murder occurs in Holcomb, Kansas, a minutely populated town in which everyone befriends their neighbors. After an extensive six weeks without being caught, the two are eventually captured and tried in court. Throughout the entire case, with the aid of a special investigator, numerous witnesses, the judge, and the jury, the two perpetrators are sentenced to death. In the novel, through the judge, jury, and lead investigator’s bias, the notion of truth and justice is used for revenge, even at the costs of undermining morals and values.
Presiding over the trial, Judge Roland Tate illustrates a form of innate and predetermined bias. Capote describes Tate as an “intimate friend of Mr. Clutter”. Despite personally knowing the victim, the judge does not recuse himself, producing an unfair and hindered trial. As a result, any decision he makes pertaining to the sentencing of Hickock and Smith emanates a concern of potential bias. This causes a subjective trial, which leads readers to contemplate about the judge’s motives and judicial acumen. During the trial, the defense attempts to present a crucial piece of evidence regarding the temperament of the defendant; the prosecutors object to the showing, and with a single objection, the judge rejects the proposal. When asked if they have portraits drawn by Smith while in prison, the defense attempts to present the evidence but “an exasperated Logan Green leaps to his feet: ‘If Your Honor please, this is going too far..’ His Honor saw no farther”. Despite possessing the evidence, Judge Tate denies the defense from showing it without valid justification. In addition, when Dr. W. Mitchell Jones, a witness, attempts to provide insight on potential insanity, the judge restricts his answers, instructing Jones, “You may answer the question yes or no, Doctor. Limit your answer yes or no”. Similarly, when Jones is recalled to answer further questions, “And once more the court admonished the witness: ‘Answer yes or no, do you have an opinion?’”. By constraining the witness’ responses, Tate hinders the maximum amount of potential insight concerning the defendant’s mental state. Through suppressing the multiple pieces of evidence, the judge exhibits a one-sided bias and unfairness towards the defense. Consequently, he compromises his morals as a judge in presiding over this particular case.The jury shows its bias and willingness to disregard their own principles in an attempt to obtain retribution for the slain family.
Despite exhibiting personal connections with the victims, the jurors are selected to interpret this case. Discussing his opinion on capital punishment, one juror says “that ordinarily he was against it, but in this case no”. This juror’s willingness to change his opinion on a crucial decision without an explanation for this specific case implies his bias. In addition, many of the jurors “were well acquainted with the deceased”. As a whole, the jury, similar to Judge Tate, has personal connections with the Clutter family. For this, the jury should not be a part of this case, as subsequent judgements insinuates partisan motivations. Furthermore, previous verdicts by juries have hinted at similar results. With doctors’ examinations of four suspects, “All had been examined…and found to be ‘without psychosis.’ Three of the men were under death sentence”. Juries of previous cases appear to depict a pattern of judgement, as death was the ruling of three of the four past convictions. Through personal connections and previous rulings, the jury exhibits predetermined bias in this distinct case. However, in this investigation, the judge and jury are not exclusively biased. Alvin Dewey, the lead investigator of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI), portrays an unintended form of bias. Seeking revenge, he undermines his moral obligation to take care of his wife and kids. When introduced to the case and the victims, Dewey says that he “was real fond of Herb and Bonnie” and “saw them every Sunday at church, visited a lot back and forth”. He vocalizes his fondness of the victims by stating his opinion of them. By maintaining a direct connection with them, he should not be part of this case for potential bias or conflict of interest. He then establishes that he “has seen some bad things…but nothing so vicious as this. However long it takes…he is going to know what happened…the why and the who”. He insinuates the severity of this particular case presumably from his connections with the family.
Pledging to solve this case under any circumstances, Dewey conveys his galvanized emotions regarding the nature of the crime. During the span of the investigation, he works extensively, even at costs of his personal health and relationship. Late at night, “He was too tense to sleep…too fretful and frustrated”. His overactive participation in this case undermines his health, and with that, his lifestyle is centered around it. His overzealous pursuit for answers also questions his relationship with his wife. She asks if “he thinks they’ll ever get back to normal living”. By exerting strenuous efforts in attempting to solve this case, with his personal relationships with the Clutters as motivation, he indirectly and unintentionally displays a bias.
Illustrating bias and unfairness, Capote’s novel, In Cold Blood analyzes actions and motivations of numerous characters. Each character acts in an unfair manner towards the case; because of this, readers detect that sometimes truth is skewed and misportrayed. In current times, the authenticity of truth is heavily debated among current political leaders. From reporting news to the criminal justice system, the impression of truth and justice has certainly evolved. And as a result, justice may never fully be restored.
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