Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Jane Austen's novel, Sense and Sensibility, was published in 1811 and has many of the same qualities that are present in her other novels. Women are dependent on the male figures in society which can be seen in the opening pages. Henry Dashwood dies and his son John takes over the estate. Unfortunately, that leaves Henry's wife and three daughters (Elinor, Marianne and Margaret) with hardly any fortune. Six months after Mr. Dashwood's death, Sir John Middleton (Mrs. Dashwood's cousin)invites her and her daughters to come live at Barton Cottage where he lives. Mrs. Dashwood willingly accepts the invitation. Even though Mrs. Dashwood cannot wait to leave, Elinor has trouble leaving everything behind, especially a gentleman that she likes named Edward Ferrars. Upon their arrival to their new home, the Middletons throw their guests a dinner party. Colonel Brandon, a guest at the party, takes an interest in Marianne, but Marianne later falls in love with John Willoughby. Lucy Steele comes to visit and informs Elinor that she has been secretly engaged to Mr. Ferrars for a year now. Elinor assumes that she means Robert Ferrars, but to her horror she finds out it is really to Edward Ferrars, the man Elinor loves. Later, Marianne's heart is also broken when she sees Mr. Willoughby at a party and he sends her a letter soon afterward saying that he never had feelings for her. It becomes clear that the reason for breaking up their relationship was because he had met Sophia Grey, a rich young woman. Quickly after their break-up, news comes around that he has already asked Sophia for her hand in marriage. While Marianne is sick, Mr. Willoughby comes to visit her and she realizes that her life is better without him. I do not want to give away the ending, but I will say that I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Jane Austen's other pieces of literature.

1. What would you do if you found out that the person you loved had secretly been engaged? Would you confront them or would you behave more like Elinor and just decide to move on with your life without fully confronting the person?

2.In the novel, Edward's fiance ends up leaving him for his brother Robert. If you were in this situation, how would you react?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Electra by Sophocles

Electra by Sophocles is a play that revolves around the idea of revenge. Nearly all characters seek to right some wrong that was done on to them creating a cycle of hate and disgust. The basis of the story centers on Electra and her misery at the murder of her father Agamemnon. While her father being killed is a tragedy in itself, it’s amplified by the fact that his death was at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra and her new lover Aegisthus. Agamemnon’s surviving children must deal with the fact that their father, a great war hero, was cut down in such a cruel and backstabbing way. The children begin to plan to take out revenge on the pair of murderers for killing their father.

At the beginning of the play we learn that Electra had taken her younger brother Orestes and sent him away to escape the household of murderers while Electra and her younger sister Chrysothemis are left to the unfair treatment of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. Electra herself is treated as a slave in her own father’s household and kept inside the palace while Aegisthus is away and is forced to wear rags. While Chrysothemis is not treated as harshly, she lives suppressed by Clytemnestra and Aegisthus and believes it’s better to follow what they say than to create misery by speaking out.

Partway through the play we find out another reason for the murder of Agamemnon other than the fact that Clytemnestra had taken interest in a new man. Agamemnon had upset the goddess Athena and as a way to repay her and let her have her revenge, he had to sacrifice his young daughter. This action rightly upset his wife to where she sought revenge upon him. The cycle does not stop here though.

To get revenge on the people that murdered Agamemnon, Electra and Orestes come up with a plan. The plan begins with pretending that Orestes had died in a chariot accident. While their parents think he is dead, he will come to the palace acting as someone else. Once he gains access, they will take the first step of their plan by murdering their mother Clytemnestra. They will then wait until Aegisthus returns before executing their second step.

1. Is there any good to getting revenge?

2. Have you ever gotten revenge on someone? (Stories are nice!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Snow Falling on Cedars

The story takes place in the 1950's on San Pedro island off the coast of Washington. The story begins in a courtroom on December 6, 1954, the day before the anniversary of Pearl Harbor but flashes through different time periods and is told mostly through Ishmael Chambers, the newspaper reporter. Kabuo Miyamoto is a Japanese-American accused of killing fellow fisherman Carl Heine. There is a snowstorm outside and most of the members of the small town are attending the hearing. Carl was found dead caught in the net of his boat and the police officers suspect someone killed him and are quick to place the blame on Kabuo. The story flashes back to before World War II and talks about how the residents of the island came without money and they grew strawberries for a living. To try to decrease prejudice every year a Japanese girl would be named princess of the strawberry festival until in 1942 when all the Japanese Americans we forced to go to internment camps. The story flashes back to the courtroom again where Hatsue is thinking about how she Kabuo met in an internment camp and then married. Then Ishmael is thinking about his childhood when he and Hatsue used to talk and kiss but now she will not speak to him. Then Carl's mother, Etta, takes the stand and talks about how Kabou's father used to pay Etta's husband money to use his land since a person of Japanese descent could not own land. Kabou's family is sent away to internment camps before they can make their final payment to own the land. Etta sold the land to Ole Jurgenson when her husband died. When Kabuo returns from war he wants to pay the final payment for the land but he is too late. Later when he learns Ole has put the farm back up for sale Kabou wants to buy it but Carl has already repurchased the land. The story then goes back and forth with evidence, some that proves Kabuo guilty and some that proves him innocent. The storm outside has caused the electricity to go out in the courtroom and causes a break in the trial. While Ishmael is driving around taking pictures to document the storm he sees his old love Hatsue and offers her a ride. She tells him that her husbands trial is not fair and he should write an article about it in his newspaper. After dropping her off Ismael goes to the lighthouse coast guard station and finds out what happened to Carl. It was foggy and a large freighter had come through and made waves that were big enough to push him overboard. Ishmael writes a story about it hoping to please Hatsue but also not wanting to write it because many of the islanders do not like the Japanese and he does not want to be on there bad side. Eventually the truth comes out and Kabuo is set free.

1. Do you think that people today are still prejudiced? Are there any examples you can think of that show how a person's ethnicity, gender, social status, etc. possibly changed the outcome of their courtcase?

2. Many of the characters in this novel are changed by what they have seen while fighting in the war. How do you think you would react if you were to fight in a war or have you seen the impact of fighting in a war directly?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, tells the story of the Bennet family, focusing mainly on the daughters, especially the two eldest, Jane and Elizabeth. The Bennets are not a wealthy family, but they manage. Mrs. Bennet wants all of her daughters to be married and is willing to do basically anything to do so. When Mr. Bingley moves in close by, Mrs. Bennet is determined to get him to marry one of her daughters, seeing as he is a very wealthy man. At a party, he takes an interest with Jane and continues to court her throughout the novel. At this same party, Mr. Darcy is introduced. He refuses to dance with Elizabeth and is therefore seen as a rude and proud man that is not well liked. These are the four main characters which most of the plot revolves around. As the plot progresses, the relationship between Jane and Bingley has its ups and downs, and it is entertaining to see it develope. Through many events, the true caring and courteous nature of Darcy is seen to the reader and to Elizabeth, and she knows that he is not the rude man that she first thought him to be. They fall in love, but Darcy's family, especially his mother, does not approve of the relationship at all and attempt to keep them from marrying. You can probably guess how the story ends, but in case you have not, I will not give it away.
Darcy is a very wealthy man and falls in love with Elizabeth, whos family does not have a lot of money. Is it socially acceptable today for a very wealthy person to marry someone of a much lower social standing? Why or why not?

As I Lay Dying

William Faulkner's famed novel, As I Lay Dying, takes place in Mississippi during a time of racism and bigotry. The mother of poor family, who live in a rural town, is on her deathbed and the entire family contributes a little something in the end of her life. The novel is told in fifteen different perspectives. Cash, her eldest son, works on making a coffin for his mother while the neighbors take care of her. Addie then dies the next day and placed into the coffin. One of her sons, Vardamere, believes he accidentally caused her death by feeding her a bad fish. This thought is so buried in his mind, that he opens the coffin and bores two holes into his mother's head, on accident again. While this is happening, Addie's daughter, Dewey Dell, is more focused on her unexpected pregancy than her mother's death. Addie's funeral is held the next day. She had only one wish: to be buried in the town of Jefferson. Although her husband wanted other worldly materials, he agrees and the males haul Addie away in a wagon, but one son, Jewel, refuses to travel in the wagon with the coffin. As their travels lead to the night, the boys stay with an accepting family, who do not believe burying Addie in Jefferson is a great idea. However, the family travels on but face complications when they learn the bridge across the river has flooded. They make a raft to attempt to make it across but a log in the river throws the coffin overboard. Luckily, a man named Vernon Toll helps them recover the coffin and eventually cross the flooded river. Tull's wife recalls Addie's unchristian life. Through a flashback, the reader sees Addie's affair with a priest, which produced Jewel, and the loveless marriage of Addie and her husband. Anse, her husband, then uses the money he was saving for false teeth, Cash's money for a gramophone, and traded in Jewel's most prized possession, his horse, to pay for a new set of mules to continue their journey. As the family reaches the town called Mottson, the stench of Addie's corpse negativiely attracts the twonspeople. That night, another son, Darl, attempts to burn the coffin by burning the farmhouse in which it rests. However, Jewel not only saves the coffin, but also all the animals inside. Darl realizes his sin and weeps over the coffin asking for forgiveness. Back home, Dewey wants to buy an abortion drug but the pharmacist suggests marriage is a better way out. The next morning, the family arrives in Jefferson, where they finally bury Addie. When the entire family is reunited, Anse sports his new false teeth... and his new bride.

1. If you were in a loveless marriage like Anse, would you request separation even though it could affect your children's lives?

2. Even if there was no love in the relationship, would you attempt to fulfill a close one's dying wish?

3. What is more important in a relationship: love or respect?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bullet Park by John Cheever

This novel was written in 1969 and takes place in a suburban neighborhood known as Bullet Park. The beginning of this novel is told through a man named Eliot Nailles. This suburb is a typical United States neighborhood at the time the novel was written. It is made up of families where the father or husband goes off to work every morning and the mother or wife remains at home cleaning and cooking and whatever else their husbands expected. Eliot Nailles' family is an example of a typical suburban family, except he and the rest of his family are not living as happily as one may believe. They each have their reasons for their signs of disgust and disappointment and they all have their own set of problems. Their son is not doing as well as he should in school and this highly disappoints his mother, Eliot's wife. And Eliot's career of being a chemist is also somewhat failing. Eliot's life changes when he meets a man named Paul Hammer who has just recently moved into Bullet Park. As strange as it sounds, Eliot is drawn to this man due to the pun created by their last names, Hammer and Nailles (Nails). The second part of the novel is told through Paul Hammer and is about his past. This occurrence of these two men meeting each other changes both their lives for many reasons.

1) In this novel, most of the wives or mothers of the families remain at home to do chores or cleaning or other other roles that women were expected to perform. Do believe that it is right for women to stay at home all day to do house-work while their husbands are off working and raising money to support their family. Do you think women have just as much ability to work as men do. Is it wrong to stereotype someone just based on gender?

1984 by George Orwell

1984, written by George Orwell is a novel based on the future of society in which, the government is completely in control of the people. The idea of this government, called Oceania or "Big Brother," is based on ultra socialist ideas. It watches every single action of every single individual.The protagonist of the story, Winston, becomes suspicious of "Big Brother" once he starts to realize that no matter what he does or where he goes he can see the face of the party. Once he realizes this fact, a domino effect of thoughts occurs in Winstons' head. He begins to realize that nobody has unique thoughts, nobody does unique things, and there is absolutely no individualism, something our modern society is completely based on. Once he realizes this he begins to Winston begins to record his individual and unique thoughts in a diary, something Big Brother forbids. He also meets a woman whom he loves named Julia, another anti-government ideal. As the novel progresses, Big Brother realizes that Winston is committing these crimes and begin to torture him with his diary of secrets and thought. Big Brother places Winston in a ministry where the government attempts to brain wash him into forgetting about Julia and learning to love Big Brother. Do they succeed? READ IT!

1. While the idea of a completely controlled population seems impossible, many critics believe that one day a society will exist wherein the government controls every move and thought of its people. How do you feel about this idea of a completely controlled population. If you were a citizen under the rule of Big Brother, would you follow the rules or would you, like Winston, risk your life in order to feel freedom of individuality?

Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

The catcher in the Rye is an epic novel about a selfish punk who wonders around New York. Holden Caulfield is kicked out of a private school for hundredth time because he thinks everyone is phony and he's so great. He goes to New York and gets drunk, he also buys a prostitute but just cries the whole time and then his pimp comes in a beats him up. He calls a bunch of girls he knows but ends up flipping out on them and storming off. He visits his sister at his parents apartment and talks to her. She looks up to her joke of a big brother because she is an innocent child. Holden wants to be a protector of children in a rye field so they do not fall of a cliff. He visits his old teacher and spends the night but when he wakes up to the teacher patting his head he runs away and cries. He takes his sister to a carousel and realizes he cannot be the catcher in the rye.

1) Many people view Holden as a visionary and a tragic hero. Is he a hero or just a selfish brat who needs to lose his ego.

1984 By George Orwell

1984, written by George Orwell, is about a man named Winston Smith and is set in Oceania. Throughout the whole novel, there constantly is references to Big Brother and how he is watching everyone and their actions. Big Brother is a concern for some of the characters in the novel, because he has never actually been seen, so they wonder if he really is a real person. In everyone's rooms there are screens and camera's so the governement is able to see what each person is doing. Many of the actions within the novel show how governements are very ruling of everyone's actions. The Party which is the controling force in 1984 believes in no individual freedom and no thoughts of their own. It was a sin for a person to think of anything against the rules of what the party had set for them. The narrator states, "And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right"(Orwell 80). Whether a person said something that was right, te government had the power to tell them it was wrong and make their way right. Winston keeps a journal which he writes various thoughts that he has in it. He does this by hiding from the camera in his room. Soon in the novel, Winston meets O'Brien who pretends to be on Winston's side against the Party for most of the novel. The opposing force was the Brotherhood and they were out to destroy the Party. Later in the novel, Winston meets a pretty lady named Julia who he falls in love with. He ends up sneaking around and trying to hid their relationship from the government, since relationships with the other sex were prohibited in Oceania. The narrator states, "The Party was trying to kill the sex instinct"(Orwell 66). O'Brien secretly knows about their relationship and all of the thoughts that both Julia and Winston have towards each other. O'Brien learns many things about Winston due to his fake character. He later uses this to get Winston in trouble for thinking, because he really is a trained thought police. He turns Winston in and they obliterate Winston's brain and keep him confined. This gets him to no longer love Julia and will never go against the Party again. They allow him to be free, and he trusts in Big Brother and what the Party has to offer him.

1) If your society was being forced to go against their own moral thoughts due to their government like Winston in 1984, would you rebel against the government and try to have them change their ways?

2) The Party in the novel seems to ave a very strong policy on how each person is to live their life. What are your beliefs on how drastic a government should be in their rule? How far are they allowed to rule in a person's life before it gets to far?

3) Would you give up your love for someone, like Winston, to be the person the government wants you to be?

4) The belief in Big Brother is like belief in God, both of them are not able to be seen. Would you believe in someone like Big Brother if you saw all of the negative actions and thoughts that are related to him?

Orlando: A Biography

Orlando: A Biography, written by Virginia Woolf in 1928, follows the life of a person named Orlando. The novel is not a true biography in the fact that the characters, events, places, and time span of over 300 years is fictional; however, is quite similar to the life of her lover, Vita Sackville-West, and others just given different names. Virginia’s personal, love life had taken a turn when she meet a woman named Vita Sackville-West, an aspiring author, wife, and mother. She never referred to herself or her friend, Vita, as homosexuals, but they soon fell in love. Vita was considered her partner in life, the person who really knew and understood her even better than anyone who had ever taken a part in her life. The novel is actually dedicated and written for Vita, who is Orlando in the novel. Orlando, the main character, is a man living in the 16th century. His first love is Queen Elizabeth who makes him of high status and stature as well as wealthy. They soon fall out of love as Orlando tries to find who he is. Orlando has various lovers spanning over 300 years and truly falls in love with a Russian princess. This princess is thought be be Vita's real-life lover. Eventually, Orlando is rejected and meets the archduchess Harriet, whom we find out later to be transgendered. Harriet had obviously made several advances toward Orlando, but was unfettered. He eventually moves away and one day becomes a woman. To the reader, he, or she now, is surprisingly O.K. with the change and begins to contemplate whether she prefers to be a man or a woman. Orlando, in woman form, meets the real Archduke Harry later on in life and debates marrying him. She realizes that he is too boring and unmoving for her liking and moves on. Orlando lives many more centuries figuring out who she, or he, really is. Eventually, Orlando transported to present day, at that time 1928, and thinks of her current love and of her writings. Seeing as Virginia and Vita Sackett-West had sexual relations while the book was first published, it is obvious, when the background of Virginia’s love life is known, that Virginia’s lover Vita had influenced the way Orlando was written and how the character, Orlando, had a love that did not differ between genders.


1. Does love truly differentiate between genders?

2. Do you think Orlando should be considered real non-fiction since it is a biography in the fact that it depicts the life of Vita Sacket-West only under a different name?

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The Brave New World takes place in the year 632 A.F. which means, After Ford (the god of the New World). Cilivization has been destroyed by a series of wars. The end of the Nine Years War brings the era of Ford. The leaders rule through dictatorship, and the society is based on a rigid caste system. The five major castes are the Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. The Alphas are elite and have superior roles, while the Epsilons are the lowest and perform menial roles. Ten Controllers hold all the power and control using science. Marriage no longer exists, and children are produced in a factory. In the beginning of the novel, students are being given a tour through the London Hatcheries, the factory children are produced in. The processes used to make children are explained to the students, who are Alphas and will one day be employeed there. Henry Foster and Lenina Crowne are employees of the center and have been spending too much time together. Lenina's friend Fanny points this out and warns her that it is against state rules to date the same person too often. So Lenina decides to date another employee named Bernard Marx, who isn't like the other people in his caste. Bernard takes Lenina on a vacation to the Savage Reservation in New Mexico, where traditional values are still practiced. Before they leave, Bernard is warned by his boss, Tomakin, about his non-conformist ways and threatened with exile. While in New Mexico, Lenina and Bernard accidently meet an abandoned woman named Linda, and her son, John the Savage. Linda had traveled to the Reservation on a vacation with Tomakin years ago and was left behind. After finding out she was pregnant, she knew she couldn't return to the Utopia, so she stayed on the Reservation. After hearing Linda's story, Bernard goes to one of the Controllers and gets permission to take Linda and John back to Utopia. Tomakin meets both Linda and John, is ridiculed, and resigns from his position at the Hatcheries. Bernard no longer has to worry about being exiled. John becomes entertainment for everyone in the New World. Bernard has custody of John and loves the attention he receives because of him. However, John soon becomes unhappy because the ways of the New World repulse him. Even though John is unhappy, Lenina is extremely attracted to him, and tries unsuccessfully to seduce him. After Linda dies, John goes crazy. He tries to convert people to his way of thinking, which results in rebellion. Bernard and his friend Helmholtz Waston are blamed for the rebellion. Bernard and Helmholtz are exiled, and John is kept for experiments. He resists and tries to escape into solitude, but the citizens of Utopia still find him and watch him for entertainment. Finally, John commits suicide because of depression.

1. People in the New World believe in "sharing" each other, which explains why marriage is forbidden. How would our present day society view this belief?

2. The citizens of the New World believe life is just for their pleasure and happiness. They're conditioned to view death as just part of the life cycle, and know that another group of children could be developed in a short amount of time. The civilized people have no value for life. Do we have a deeper purpose than just living, and what do you value about life?

Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights is a story mainly told in the form of a flashback. Also, the novels first half seems to deal with one generation and the second half focuses on the second generation. A maid named Nelly tells the twisted story of two familes: the Earnshaws and the Lintons. She depicts the story to a man named Lockwood who is staying at a manor called Thrushcross Grange. Wuthering Heights is the name of the house his landlord, Heathcliff, lives in four miles from Thrushcross Grange. Lockwood visits Heathcliff and is taken aback by his extreme hostility and the queerness of everyone who lives there. Once he goes back to Thrushcross Grange, he begs Nelly to tell him the story of the people of Wuthering Heights. Thus begins the flashback.
As Nelly tells the story, Lockwood records all the details in his diary. Nelly describes the life that she has witnessed since she has worked here and dealt with this particular family since she was young. She tells Lockwood about a woman named Catherine, whose father owned Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, and her brother, Hindley. Their father, who is away for some time, brings home a dark-skinned orphan, whom they deem Heathcliff. At first, Catherine and Hindley detest him, but surely enough, Catherine and Heathcliff begin to spend all their time together. Hindley especially hates Heathcliff due to the fact that his father likes him more. Mr. Earnshaw sends Hindley away due to this tension, therefore causing Hindley to hate Heathcliff even more. Soon after, Mr. Earnshaw dies.
The death of Mr. Earnshaw draws Hindley back to come take possession of their estate. He is now married and eventually has a son named Hareton. One night, Catherine and Heathcliff venture to Thrushcross Grange to spy on the Linton children, Isabella and Edgar. However, Catherine spends five weeks there due to an injury brought on by the Linton's dog. Heathcliff was forced to leave due to his rebellious nature. While at the Linton's, Catherine is transformed into a young lady. Once she returns home, Heathcliff is highly upset with the new Catherine. As they grow up, Catherine finds herself in love with Edgar, but more in love with Heathcliff. She chooses to marry Edgar, forever wounding the terrible-natured Heathcliff. Heathcliff eventually leaves for three years, and Hindley becomes a drunk who is very abusive to his son.
When Heathcliff returns, he marries Isabella Linton, even though Edgar disapproves. Soon after this, Catherine gives birth to a daughter, Catherine, and dies. Isabella is treated horribly by Heathcliff and eventually runs off to London, where she gives birth to their son, Linton. Isabella dies after about twelve years. Linton is brought back to Wuthering Heights where Heathcliff and Hareton live. Catherine still lives in Thrushcross Grange with Nelly and Edgar, who is dying. Catherine learns of her cousins, Hareton and Linton, and Heathcliff forces Catherine to marry Linton. Soon after they marry, Edgar dies. Linton was also very sick and he dies relatively quickly after Edgar does. Both of their deaths gives Heathcliff full control of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. This is the end of the flashback that Nelly was telling Lockwood.
Lockwood decides not to stay at Thrushcross Grange any longer and goes to tell Heathcliff of this. Lockwood eventually leaves and Heathcliff starts to go nuts. He can see the resemblence of Catherine in the young Catherine, as well as in Hareton. He eventually dies. Lockwood learns of this when he returns to talk to Nelly after a few months. He also learns that Catherine and Hareton are to be married soon.

1) Catherine (the mother) is torn between the love of two guys, Heathcliff and Edgar. She eventually marries Edgar even though she loves Heathcliff more because her brother, Hindley, detests Heathcliff and has degraded him. Have you ever had to make a tough decision or been influenced into something due to the thoughts of others? If so, why would you let them persuade you?

2) Heathcliff leaves for three years once Catherine marries Edgar. When he returns, he is a wealthy "gentleman." He becomes this way because of his love for Catherine. Have you ever done something out of love for someone, even if it pains you at first?

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?