In Cold Blood: The Story Behind The First True Crime Novel
Author, Truman Capote wrote the nonfiction novel, In Cold Blood, by which he speaks upon the impact childhood trauma may cause others as well as how that may influence someone to murder an entire family of innocent strangers. Capote’s purpose throughout the nonfiction novel is to influence the reader to feel sympathy for the murderers. Capote adopts a realistic and sentimental tone to appeal upon the audience regarding real world experiences, such as the ones Perry Smith was forced to face as a child which eventually led him to take place in the Clutter family murders.
Growing up, Perry’s childhood consisted of a constant cycle of violence and neglect. One of the most traumatic moments Perry experienced as a child was being put in an orphanage where he would be “taken care” of by nuns who would mistreat him. One nun in particular would constantly abuse Perry, eventually leaving him traumatized. Throughout the novel, Capote speaks upon when Perry was almost killed as a child by this nun by which he says, “Oh Jesus, was she an Evil Bastard! Incarnate. What she used to do, she’d fill a tub with ice cold water, put me in it, and hold me under until I was blue”. The image Capote tries to portray concerning the challenges Perry had to face as child, invokes the audience to feel sympathy towards him and all of the terrible events he had to experience. It also brings to mind negative emotions towards the nun as well as his parents through which it establishes that no child deserves to be faced with such traumatic childhood events. The events Perry had to face as a child helps establish the mental instability it caused him, they are used as an appeal towards pathos, and the audiences’ feelings of sympathy and frustration.
Traumatic events such as the one Perry experienced with the nun shaped him into the man he became. Upon all of the events that he went through as a child caused him to believe that it might have been something he was born with rather than his own fault. In addition to Perry speaking about this, Capote states, “After all, it was “painful” to imagine that one might be ‘not just right’– particularly if whatever was wrong was not your own fault but ‘maybe a thing you were born with’”. When Perry begins to reflect upon himself and his childhood, Capote tries to bring a sense of pity towards him causing the audience to take in consideration that Perry may have not been mentally okay. Concerning that Perry might be mentally unstable brings a sense of compassion towards Perry and the murders he committed for which he may have not been at fault for. Upon Capote referring towards this moment, it is portrayed as an appeal towards pathos by which the audience has a sensation of pity and compassion towards Perry, leaving his traumatic childhood at fault instead.
After Perry gives thought about not being particularly normal, he begins to reflect on the murders he committed. As he is reflecting on the Clutter family murders, he begins to wonder if he was destined to live this life, if maybe his traumatic childhood wasn’t his fault but rather the way things were meant to be. When Perry begins to reflect upon this moment, Capote writes, “And it wasn’t because of anything the Clutters did. They never hurt me. Like other people. Like people all my life. Maybe it’s just that the Clutters were the ones who had to pay for it”. Prior to Perry’s reflection upon the murders, results in the audience feeling sorrow towards him and disappointment upon all of the terrible people who mistreated him growing up. Referring to this particular moment, Capote begins to illustrate an image of Perry as the victim rather than the Clutter family by which the audience begins to feel more sympathy towards him than the actual victims.
Indicated through the novel, Capote’s use of strong language helps bring the audience a sympathetic feel towards the murderers. Eventually leading the thought that trauma may influence an individual to commit such crime as murder. Furthermore, childhood trauma may lead one to murder an entire family of innocent strangers.
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