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In Cold Blood | Study Guide

Truman Capote

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In Cold Blood | Persons Unknown (Part 3) | Summary



Although Perry Smith tells Dick Hickock he beat someone to death in Vegas, he didn't. Perry tells this lie because he wants Dick to respect him and think he is as "masculine" as he considers Dick to be. Perry begins to question if they are "normal" given what they've done, and if anyone can get away with such actions. Dick begins to think Perry had not killed before and is annoyed by his apprehensions. To prove he has no reservations about killing, Dick runs over a dog on the road.

In Acapulco, the two men stay with Otto, a rich German who draws nude studies of Dick and takes them out on his boat. When Perry lands a huge fish, an old man photographs him, and Perry looks as happy as if the yellow bird from his dreams has "hauled him to heaven." Two Holcomb families decide to move away, one being the Ashidas. As Mrs. Ashida tells Bess Hartman at the café, after what happened to Herb Clutter and his family, "something around here had come to an end" for her. The groundskeeper at the Clutter farm spots someone prowling around inside the Clutter house and calls the sheriff. Authorities arrive to flush out Jonathan Daniel Adrian, who'd read about the Clutters and was curious. A shotgun—the kind that killed the Clutters—and a hunting knife are found in Adrian's car.


The theme of the American Dream returns with Mrs. Ashida's belief that Herb Clutter probably didn't believe anything bad would happen to him, "because it couldn't. Not to him." Those who achieve the American Dream know what it is to get what they want. When bad things happen to people like Herb Clutter, the American Dream itself comes into question. As time passes and no arrest is made, fear and suspense grow in Holcomb, and people feel increasingly nervous and unsafe. Two families even pack up and leave the state. When a prowler is found inside the Clutter house, locals believe the man responsible for the crime has finally been caught. But investigators determine Jonathan Adrian—a former mental patient in the Topeka State Hospital—is guilty only of morbid curiosity. The idea of the pastoral nature of rural America is undermined in this section as well as the ideal of the American Dream.

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