The Secret Behind the Great American Dream

March 5, 2019 by Essay Writer

In Cold Blood begins with a death of the Clutters family, whose lives are ended with gunshots. The killers are 2 men with different backgrounds, characteristics, and reasons to kill. Capote first depicts the whole event in mystery and he exposes the truth when he feels comfortable. After months escape, Perry and Dick plead their guilty, so Capote provides a deeper analysis of both murderers’ psychological problems that are derived from their childhood. Although Perry and Dick finally receive punishment and execution, in Truman Capote’s novel In Cold Blood, both of Perry and Dick have a traumatic childhood memory. Through the use of symbolism and characterization, Capote illustrates the American Dream as an achievable goal for Perry and Dick because they have their own way to complete the dreams.

Perry has a violent and tragic childhood. His father and mother were divorced, and his mother has issues with mental illness. People who know Perry always say, “Look at his family! Look at what had happened there! His mother, an alcoholic, had strangled to death on her own vomit”(175). Generally, Perry lives in a broken and fragmented family with a patient. Perry mentions that all his family members are gone and now he has no one that can depends on: “Jimmy a suicide. Fern out the window. My mother dead. Been dead eight years. Everybody gone but Dad and Barbara”(215). Items in Perry’s memorabilia are symbols to show his affection to things with meanings. The content in his memorabilia explains why he is being clingy towards Dick and anything he finds involving. When he arrives in Kansas, he carries a box labelled “Beware! Property of Perry E. Smith!” He collects items related with his life like old letters, photographs, and souvenirs. The most significant item is a letter called “ A History of My Boy’s Life” “It was a document that Perry had read at least a hundred times, never with indifference”(197), Capote describes. Though carrying these belongings are heavy and clumsy, Perry still keeps it because he know these items represent his meaningful past. Through these memorable old items, Perry dreams about achieving his goal, which is to find good fortune in the discovery of buried treasure, however, Perry seems unwilling to work hard for what he wants. Nothing good comes easy. Unlike Dick, Perry does not see crime as the only method to achieve his dreams.

Dick is a foil character of Perry, and he always considers himself as normal: “‘Deal me out, baby’,” Dick said. ‘I’m a normal.’And Dick meant what he said. He thought himself as balanced, as sane as anyone—maybe a bit smarter than the average fellow, that’s all”(171-172). Because there has no certain morality for a person, Dick thinks the things he has done are absolutely normal and feel no guilty at all. Due to Dick’s childhood, which is luckier and more arranged than Perry’s, he is a confident and enterprising person who seems to consider himself has masculinity. In order to be a better foil character, Dick has something similar with Perry: “There were those Dick claimed to love: three sons, a mother, a father, a brother—persons he hadn’t dared confide his plans to, or bid goodbye, though he never expected to see them again— not in this life”(169). Both of them lose their family members in their childhood. The family ofDick first gives him hope and happiness, then it abandons him cruelly. This sudden mental torture makes him become a crazy man who likes committing crimes. Such drastic shift of life environment pushes Dick become different from others.

In Cold Blood contains so many American Dreams because all the characters have their own, however there are similarities and differences between theirs. In the beginning of the story, not only the Clutters, but the entire town seem like achieving their American Dream. The story begins with: “there to fore sufficiently unfearful of each other to seldom trouble to lock their doors, found fantasy recreating them over and again”(21). Especially the family of Clutter, they are highly respected, and they are wealthy and nice. Everyone in the town was surrounded with this environment, but after the death of the Clutters, people lose their dream. The criminals, Perry and Dick, all have an incapability to obtain the American dream. Even though Dick works hard enough, being cripple and childhood nightmares can not be eliminated. Perry also has a terrible childhood and a broken family, and he just wants to earn enough money and flee to Mexico for treasure hunt. Either Perry or Dick dies not achieve the common American Dream, but they have achieved their own goals. They live in the life style they want to have, that mean at least they have finished their own goal. At the end of the story, the author points out that there is not a standard American Dream, so there is no failure on this dream.

Capote utilizes symbolism of a memorabilia and characterization of Perry and Dick to points out that American Dream can be achieved in various ways. Perry and Dick have similar and different lifestyle when they are young, but they response differently on murdering the Clutters. Perry is afraid of killing them at first, but Dick even wants to torture them harder. The specific characterization illustrates different American Dreams from different personalities, which states that all dreams can be achieved in various means.

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