In Cold Blood | Study Guide

Truman Capote

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In Cold Blood | Answer (Part 3) | Summary

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Summary

Alvin Dewey tries to conceal from the public the break in the case concerning Perry Smith and Dick Hickock. Because the authorities still lack real evidence, Dewey wants the killers to think they've gotten away with the crime because "the safer they feel, the sooner we'll grab them." Rumors continue to fly in Garden City, but in Holcomb the Clutter murders are banned as a topic of gossip by Mrs. Hartman at her café and by Myrt Clare at the post office.

Meanwhile, Perry sits in a Kansas City laundromat, anxious because Dick hasn't come back for him yet. He runs scenarios through his head—Dick's been caught for writing bad checks and the connection has been made to the murders; Dick is visiting his parents; if Dick doesn't return, where can Perry go, who will help him? Dick finally shows up, late at night, revealing he has switched the plates on the stolen car and cheated some friends out of money. Because he is on a roll, they'll hit a few more places and then head to Miami, where they'll spend Christmas.

Harold Nye calls Dewey, who's been having nightmares about chasing down Perry and Hickock, to say the two men are in Kansas City. Dick, who has been using his own name to write bad checks, has purchased a TV set, and the salesman jotted down the Chevrolet's license number. The plates were run and linked to a stolen car. Authorities are now watching the Hickock farm. Dewey wants nothing more for Christmas than to wrap up the case, but he doesn't believe the "invulnerable" Dick and Perry will be caught in Kansas City.

Perry and Dick make it to Miami. Perry is disgusted when Dick tries to pick up a 12-year-old girl; luckily, she rebuffs him. Dick grows angry at the sight of a man his own age with a gorgeous blonde by his side, because he "knew the glories of money and power." Dick feels such things should belong to him but knows they never will. Perry senses he and Dick are "running a race without a finish line."

Analysis

Alvin Dewey keeps Perry Smith's and Dick Hickock's names out of the news so they will begin to feel safe and become more vulnerable to capture. In Holcomb, both Mrs. Hartman and Myrt Clare attempt to insulate everyone from rumors about the Clutter case by disallowing gossip at the café and post office. Dick's poor decisions and actions—stealing the car, replacing its license plates, returning to Kansas City to pass more bad paper, leaving Perry alone too long, and acting out on his perversion for young girls—unnerve Perry. Alvin Dewey, too, is growing unnerved. He has nightmares about running into Perry and Dick but failing to catch them. Although Dewey and his team learn the men are in Kansas City, they fail to catch them.

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