In the novel “In Cold Blood,” a family of four is killed terribly in a tiny town named Holcomb, Kansas, which had the whole town in shock and scared. Truman Capote wrote this to address the sensitive matter of what crime can affect a community (Baila-Bigné, 2020). Capote, throughout the book, employs rhetorical devices and tone to encourage the reader to think about the awful events that happened in Holcomb.
Holcomb was a little town that was free of crime. They came to fear their neighbors, were increasingly suspicious, and began to question their ideal (Biswas, 2020). The murders created devastation and robbed the neighborhood of its sense of security. As a result, the residents started locking their doors. This action shows how the state of security in the town is worrying and the previous beliefs have faded away.
Capone begins his tale by discussing the tranquil town of Holcomb and presenting the victims, the Clutters. Herb Clutter works at the ranch and supervises his employees during the day (Perez, 2019). He is an excellent employer, giving adequate remuneration and attentiveness to his workers (Blood, 2019). He did not like alcoholics and never employed such people. Nancy, his teenage daughter, is a lovely young lady who aspires to move to New York and pursue higher education.
She was dating a local boy named Bobby Rupp but did not view him as a long-term partner. Bonnie Clutter, Herb’s wife, suffered from severe postpartum depression following the births of their four children (Brauer, 2022). While her daughter and husband took care of the family, she remained unwell and unhappy. Kenyon, the youngest Clutter, was spending his days making, tearing down, and rebuilding various machines and gadgets (Soukupová, 2020). He was bright and had the potential to become an engineer or inventor when he grew up.
The town of Holcomb reacted unexpectedly when the Clutter family members got brutally murdered. It was a delightfully trusting place before the killings. No one ever locked their doors because they believed there was nothing to fear (Hustis, 2018). The citizens of Holcomb’s trusting actions demonstrated a strong belief in the townspeople’s honesty because they were so familiar with one another. After the Clutters got killed by Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, the news spread like wildfire (Meeks, 2021). Instead of banding together to find warmth and solace to build trust and friendship, the residents of Holcomb began to distrust one another. They closed their doors and peered over their shoulders, suspicious that the murderers were among them (Melville, 2020). Danger had infiltrated Holcomb’s residents’ thoughts, making everyone a potential threat rather than a potential ally.
The horrific tragedy happened in a rural town where residents do not even lock their doors at night. Leaving the doors unlocked was common throughout the early half of the twentieth century (Zakharov, 2018). The occurrence of crime in such a safe, small community where everyone knows everyone else adds to the horror of the situation (Harshini & Devipriya, 2019). Many residents in Holcomb believed that a crime like this is unlikely to happen only in a large city with people who do not know each other (Foertsch, 2019). A sense of isolation struck the town of Holcomb due to the crime. Neighborliness’ and natural order appeared to be in limbo, chaos erupted, and residents were suspicious of themselves rather than awful outsiders.
The target of the Clutters was irony because they were a representation of success, both financially and in an ordinary stable family. They were a symbol of a perfect family and were well-liked in town (Miyazawa, 2019). When the evil act of murder was made public, the community was devastated, and everyone suddenly felt insecure (Eldiasty, 2018). The locals developed tense anxiety that the killer must be among them, generating paranoia and distrust among neighbors.
The murders undermined the sanity of this town and changed the residents’ belief that if a person lives a perfect life, goes to church, treats neighbors properly, and follows the ordinance, there are limited chances that nothing adverse will happen to that person (Sligar, 2019). The atrocities threw the entire community into pandemonium; the chaos and confusion created a discomfort that some people could not bear; thus, getting away from their fear was important.
However, communal lives were affected irreversibly, which is why Capote drew to this particular crime, an almost unpredictable act. The murder of the Clutters by Hickock and Smith changed this community’s beliefs and way of living permanently (Delaney, 2020). This showed that even if the residents lived in peace and neighborliness, there were some people who were still evil. A modest tranquil town is now famously recognized for the terrible killings in Kansas.
Mrs. Hickock’s tribute to the people of Holcomb reveals their genuine character. She claims that no one has been rude to her, citing that the waitress at the diner used to give her free ice cream on her pie daily (Ravikumar & Raja, 2019). Despite the town’s paranoia and grief, this suggests that there is no lynch mob mentality directed at the suspects or their families (Cherfi & Raounak, 2021). Instead, the residents of Holcomb appreciate that while there is enough pain and remorse to go around, everyone deserves respectable and understanding treatment.
In conclusion, Capote’s book attests that human life costs have decreased. The town of Holcomb was a peaceful place, but people like Hickock and Smith completely change their perspective on how the town was before, making it an insecure place. Individuals who live a perfect life and regularly attend church can be victims of terrible crimes. The determining reasons for the crime are the world’s and society’s dysfunction. As a result, this affects the beliefs of a community and how people perceive each other.
Baila-Bigné, S. (2020). Negative empathy in the narrative: humanizing evil in In Cold Blood and Les bienveillantes.
Biswas, S. (2020). Post 1945 American Anxiety in Truman Capotes In Cold Blood. Trivium: A Multi-Disciplinary Journal Of Humanities Of Chndernagore College, 5(9).
Blood, I. C. (2019). Towards a Rhetoric of Fictionality in the Nonfiction Novel: A Study of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.
Brauer, S. (2022). Criminality and the Modern: Contingency and Agency in Twentieth-Century America. Rowman & Littlefield.
Cherfi, D., & Raounak, Z. (2021). Literary Journalism: A Stylistic Analysis of Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood”.
Delaney, J. A. (2020). The Incarcerated Text: Anti-prison Sentiment in Latinx Literature (Doctoral dissertation, University of Colorado at Boulder).
Eldiasty, A. A. E. (2018). From New Journalism to Fiction: Truman Capote’s Narrative Innovations in In Cold Blood. CDELT Occasional Papers in the Development of English Education, 65(1), 129-150.
Foertsch, J. (2019). On the Road, In Cold Blood, and the End of the American Road Trip. The Midwest Quarterly, 60(4), 390-402.
Harshini, P., & Devipriya, K. (2019). Narrative Journalism in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation, 2(2), 39-42.
Hustis, H. (2018). “A Different Story Entirely”: Crafting Confessions in Capote’s In Cold Blood and Atwood’s Alias Grace. Lit: Literature Interpretation Theory, 29(3), 179-196.
Meeks, T. L. (2021). A Media History of True Crime: The Genre Is the Message (Doctoral dissertation, Idaho State University).
Melville, H. (2020). Death Sentences The Aesthetics and Politics of Last Words in In Cold Blood, Capote, and Infamous (Doctoral dissertation).
Miyazawa, N. (2019). Photography, Unconscious Optics, and Observation in Capote’s In Cold Blood. Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory, 75(2), 37-54.
Perez, M. V. (2019). Dazzle, Gradually: A “Tru” Account of Adapting Capote’s In Cold Blood. In Queer/Adaptation (pp. 225-239). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
Ravikumar, M. M., & Raja, G. A. (2019). Journalism as Artistic Expression: The Critical Response to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.
Sligar, S. (2019). In Cold Blood, the Expansion of Psychiatric Evidence, and the Corrective Power of True Crime. Law & Literature, 31(1), 21-47.
Soukupová, M. (2020). Shock and Awe: Deformities in the Selected Stories of Flannery O’Connor, Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams.
Zakharov, d. (2018). “Precious Pleasures”.Ttruman Capote’s letters: Reconstructing the Creative History of the novel in cold blood. 2018 № 5, 165.