In Cold Blood | Study Guide

Truman Capote

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In Cold Blood | Answer (Part 4) | Summary

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Summary

Dick Hickock and Perry Smith spot an old man and his grandson who are hitchhiking. Dick wants to keep driving, but "little old big-hearted" Perry insists they give them a ride. The boy, Bill, teaches Dick how to collect and cash in cans for refunds and make enough money to eat. After dining together at a motel restaurant, Dick and Perry leave Bill and his grandfather behind and head for Las Vegas. But there, after Perry retrieves his boxes of mementos from the post office, he and Dick drive to Perry's rooming house, where police arrest them. At the Las Vegas jail, Perry and Dick are separated. Harold Nye and Roy Church interrogate Dick, allowing him to tell his story, which includes the lie about Perry's sister in Fort Scott and an escapade with prostitutes who robbed them. Nye informs Dick he knew Perry never had a sister living in Fort Scott, and asks if Dick really thought the agents would come this far about some bad checks. Nye tells Dick he left a live witness and footprints at the crime scene. When Church tells Dick he will be charged with all four Clutter murders, Dick blurts out, "It was Perry. I couldn't stop him. He killed them all."

Analysis

Dick Hickock not only uses Perry Smith to do the killing for him, when caught and interrogated, he states outright that Perry killed the four Clutters and Dick couldn't stop him. Dick's criminal mind and immoral behavior extend to betraying his partner in crime. Capote contrasts Dick's behavior with Perry's grasp of morality. Perry has a good side, as shown in his dealings with the boy Bill and his grandfather. When Dick threatens to kick them out of the car, Perry, worried about the old man's frailty, stands up to Dick, as did when he'd refused to let Dick rape Nancy Clutter. Perry tells Dick that if he kicks out their two passengers, Perry will join them. Throughout the text, readers are challenged by such revelations to wonder if Perry might have had a chance at a normal life given a different background.

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