Sunday, April 24, 2011

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Holcomb, Kansas is a small town, but that does not mean that something big cannot happen there. November 14, 1959 seems like any other ordinary day for Herbert Clutter. Herbert owns a large farm and is fairly well-known and wealthy in his town. He works on the farm daily and does not bother anyone; therefore, he would have never expected anyone to commit such a crime against him and his family. But in life, it is impossible to know what day will be our last.

Clutter lives with his wife, Bonnie, and two of his younger children, Nancy and Kenyon. Each family member has their own problems and quirks, but both children seem to have a bright future. Unfortunately, on that brisk November day, Clutter and his family are brutally murdered. Their bodies are found the next day by one of Nancy's classmates.

The murder affects everyone in the town. No one is able to trust anyone anymore because they have no idea who committed the murder and believe it was someone living in the town. Investigators continue to search for evidence, but they are not very successful. Some people even become so paranoid about the murder that they decide to leave Holcomb altogether. "But afterwards the townspeople, theretofore sufficiently unfearful of each other to seldom trouble to lock their doors... those somber explosions that stimulated fires of mistrust in the glare of which many old neighbors viewed each other strangely, and as strangers," writes Capote (5).

Meanwhile, the murderers who came all the way across the state to kill the Holcolmb family travel to Mexico and then back to the U.S., stopping in many random places throughout the country. One of the murderers, Dick Hickock, has recently been released from jail. While in jail he met a man named Floyd Wells. Floyd worked for Clutter on his farm and told Dick about how rich the family was and how he wanted to steal their money. Unsuspectingly, Dick recruits his friend Perry into helping him committ the murder and steal the Clutter's money. Floyd is still in jail when he hears of the Clutter family being murdered, and he turns in Dick and Perry to the police.

The murderers are finally found in Las Vegas, and the investigators from Holcomb go to question them. Dick is the first to confess, and Perry does shortly after. The trial begins, and many witnesses are called to the stand. The defense tries to show that the murderers were not thinking straight when committing the murder, but this does not help their case. The murderers are sentenced to death. The local newspaper reports, "Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith, partners in crime, died on the gallows at the state prison early today for one of the bloodiest murders in Kansas criminal annals. Hickock, 33 years old, died first, at 12:41 A.M.; Smith, 36, died at 1:19..." (337). The town of Holcomb can finally stop living in fear.

1) In the story, the murderers ultimate motive for killing the Clutter family is money. What would you do for money, and why do you think so many people go crazy in order to be wealthy?

2) What is your opinion on the death penalty? Should it be legal in our country for certain crimes?


Bojana D 11.12 said...

1. I don't think I would kill anyone for money. I think that's kind of extreme. I think many people go crazy for wealth because money comes with power. Some people are so greedy for money and power, which is why they committ such horrible crimes. Some people even associate money with happiness.

2. I think the death penalty should be legal for certain crimes that involve murder. For example, if someone kills someone, they should pay for it, by death. Eye for an eye situation.

Courtney R 5-6 said...

Personally, all I would do is work for my money. I would never steal anybody's or do anything rash in order to obtain any money. I think people go crazy because they are greedy. Also, sometimes people have hard lives so they think it's okay to do something wrong to help themselves.

I believe that it should only be necessary if someone committs a murder. Even then it seems too horrible. There must always be restrictions on the death penatly and it will always be a controversial issue in the United States.

McKenzieM 11-12 said...

I agree with Courtney, I think that if you take someone's life than you deserve the death penalty. I do think it should be legal but only for certain circumstances.

Kelsey M. 11/12 said...

I agree with all of you on the death penalty. I feel that if you are able to go through wit something so horrible, that it is only right for you to have the same fate.

For the first question, Courtney and Bojana, I think the same things. It's crazy what people do in order to get money. For example, I have seen so many families get broken up because of money. It causes people to act in ways that are very unreasonable.

Natalie S Mods 5-6 said...

1) A lot of people are willing do go for extremes for money but I am not. Unfortunately, money seems to be an important part of life. I will not money alter my beliefs or morals though. My ultimate goal in life is to be happy and although money may bring some happiness, it is not worth losing yourself to attain it.

Kelsey M. 11/12 said...

Natalie, you bring up a good ppoint. I don't think money can bring you happiness at all. There are so many other things that are more important in our lives. For example, I would defintely rather have a job that I like doing every day and not make as much money rather than make a lot of money at a job that I don't like. It is also important to have good relationships with others. Money will not give you that kind of happiness.

SeanK56 said...

I also agree with Natalie, people go to far for money, but it is also hard to get by with little or no money when you have children to keep alive, and people will do whatever for their family. With the death penalty I am 100% for it with crimes such as murder. If you can take someones life, be prepared to do the same. We need harsher penalties for crimes in this country to discourage people from committing them over and over again, not saying throw the death penalty around, maybe just larger fines/longer jail time.

Kaitlyn H 11-12 said...

1. I would do a lot for money unless it went against my morals or good judgment. I think people go crazy for money because it is hard work to get, and people are willing to do many things for any easy way out.

2. I think the death penalty should be legal for certain crimes. Sometimes the only punishment reasonable for the crime someone committed is death.

Kenneth C.M. 13-14 said...

1) I agree with many previous answers. The only thing i would do for money are things that are morally right and don't hurt anyone else.

Kara K. 5/6 said...

1) I would not go very far for money. I feel one needs to work hard for their money, not steal it from others. Many people go crazy for money, because it is the supstance that makes our society keep running. If one has no money, then they are unable to buy food or live in their house.

2)I do not like the death penalty.I feel that if one does something wrong, they should have to suffer for what they did by living their life out with that in the back of their mind.