In Cold Blood | Study Guide

Truman Capote

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Course Hero. "In Cold Blood Study Guide." November 28, 2016. Accessed July 17, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/In-Cold-Blood/.

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Course Hero, "In Cold Blood Study Guide," November 28, 2016, accessed July 17, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/In-Cold-Blood/.

In Cold Blood | Answer (Part 5) | Summary

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Summary

On the drive across the country, Alvin Dewey drives the lead car with Perry Smith beside him and Clarence Duntz in the backseat. Perry won't talk until Dewey says Dick Hickock told them Perry once killed a man with a bicycle chain. Realizing Dick has betrayed him, Perry finally talks about all that has happened. His descriptions of the failed robbery and the murders are detailed and graphic. Perry also says he couldn't bring himself to kill the Clutter women; he handed the gun to Dick, who finished the job. He also reveals how Dick had wanted to rape Nancy Clutter. When Duntz asks Perry how much money he and Dick got from the Clutters, Perry replies between $40 to $50.

The prisoners are delivered to the county jail in Garden City where the entire town seems to have gathered for a glimpse of Perry and Dick. When the crowd finally sees the two "handcuffed men, white-faced and blinking blindly" in the glare of flashbulbs and floodlights, it falls silent.

Analysis

In Perry Smith's confession filled with blood and gore, his feelings and actions seem contradictory. He admits he never felt as low as when he crawled on the Clutter's floor, trying to find a silver dollar of Nancy's. He speaks kindly of the Clutters, and says he killed them without really knowing what he was doing—he was almost in a trance—especially when it came to Herb Clutter. Perry says he slit Herb's throat before he could stop himself, and then felt obligated to shoot him to end his suffering. After hearing Perry's story, Alvin Dewey feels some sympathy for him, given his terrible life: "pitiful, an ugly and lonely progress toward one mirage and then another." Dewey's reaction is similar to the reader's. Like the reader, however, his sympathy cannot extend to forgiveness or mercy, for Perry's confession also reveals the horror the victims suffered.

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