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In Cold Blood | Quotes

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1.

It's important always to have with you something of your own.


Bonnie Clutter, The Last to See Them Alive (Part 2)

Bonnie Clutter says this to Jolene, a girl who has just had a pie-baking lesson with Nancy but had to stay and wait for her mother to pick her up. Bonnie shows Jolene her collection of miniatures and gives one to Jolene to keep. Bonnie's ambivalence about her role in the family is reflected in the quote, which also mirrors how Perry Smith took boxes of his possessions and mementos with him everywhere.

2.

The only sure thing is every one of them has got to go.


Dick Hickock, The Last to See Them Alive (Part 3)

Although Perry Smith is the one to shoot all four family members, Dick Hickock devises the plan to rob the Clutters and insists that they kill everyone in the house. Perry wanted only to rob the Clutters; Dick does not even consider the possibility of leaving anyone alive.

3.

Somebody must have been hiding ... waiting for me to leave.


Bobby Rupp, The Last to See Them Alive (Part 4)

This quote comes from Bobby Rupp's interview with the author about the last night he saw his girlfriend, Nancy Clutter. It embodies the eeriness and foreboding building in the book's first section, up to when the crime is committed and the bodies are found.

4.

Dick became convinced that Perry was that rarity, "a natural killer."


Narrator, The Last to See Them Alive (Part 4)

This quote reveals just how much of a criminal at heart Dick Hickock is. He is sure Perry Smith will do what Dick tells him to do; Dick intends to benefit financially from the crime by using Perry to carry out the parts he does not want to do himself.

5.

And seeing the dog—somehow that made me feel again.


Larry Hendricks, The Last to See Them Alive (Part 4)

Larry Hendricks portrays the shock the community feels and their disbelief at the fate of their friends at the hands of murderers. The dog's fear makes the family's suffering real to Larry Hendricks.

6.

The Clutters were the least likely to be murdered.


Narrator, Persons Unknown (Part 1)

The narrator sums up how everyone in Holcomb feels about the Clutters. They are deeply involved with the community, well liked, enemies of no one, and helpers of many. There is no apparent reason, given the evidence from the crime scene, why they have been murdered, making the crime even more unimaginable.

7.

The head of each was completely encased in cotton ... [and] twinkled like Christmas-tree snow.


Narrator, Persons Unknown (Part 2)

The narrator describes what the Clutter family looks like in their coffins before they were sealed. Bobby Rupp and Susan Kidwell beg the funeral director to let them see the family, and the funeral director finally agrees. Because each of the Clutters has been shot in the head, the heads are completely wrapped in white cotton sprayed with something glossy. The eeriness of the comparison of the shiny cotton to twinkling Christmas-tree snow makes the vision even more terrifying.

8.

There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that.


Perry Smith, Persons Unknown (Part 3)

This quote shows the difference in Dick Hickock and Perry Smith. Perry, to some degree, is bothered by the crime and wants to talk about it. Dick doesn't want to talk about it and wants to move on, which suggests he has no moral compass.

9.

I'll bet he wasn't afraid ... right up to the last he didn't believe it would.


Mrs. Ashida, Persons Unknown (Part 3)

Mrs. Ashida's statement reveals Herb Clutter's personality and how people who knew him perceived him. Mrs. Ashida knew Herb fairly well, having volunteered with him in 4-H for two years, and she thought of him as a person who was fearless but kind.

10.

She'd fill a tub with ice-cold water, put me in it, and hold me under till I was blue.


Perry Smith, Persons Unknown (Part 4)

Perry Smith describes just one of many horrific instances of abuse he endured during his abysmal childhood. Here he talks about being nearly drowned by a nurse at the Salvation Army children's shelter where his mother left him; he was only in second grade. It seems almost inevitable that Perry would develop a detachment from people to protect himself and a deep level of anger about how he has been treated.

11.

Because I never for a minute believed he meant to carry it out.


Floyd Wells, Answer (Part 1)

Floyd Wells likes his former employer, Herb Clutter. Yet he tells Dick Hickock in detail all about the Clutters, how the house is laid out, how many people live there, how to get inside, and about the safe holding $10,000. When questioned by the investigators, Floyd says inmates brag about this kind of thing all the time in prison, so no one pays attention. Floyd doesn't count on Dick's desperation.

12.

The miracle was the sudden appearance of a third hitchhiker.


Narrator, Answer (Part 2)

This quote reveals Perry Smith's two sides. He exhibits a willingness to murder an innocent driver for his money and his car, following Dick's orders, yet doesn't want to take the life of an innocent person. Like Mr. Bell, whom he has almost murdered, Perry had been saved, too, from having one more murder on his already shaky conscience.

13.

Big-hearted Perry was always pestering Dick to pick up the damnedest, sorriest-looking people.


Narrator, Answer (Part 4)

The narrator describes Dick Hickock's opinion of Perry Smith as a sappy, "womanish," whining person who was—despite his ability to kill—sentimental and a drag on Dick's freedom. This side of Perry is also revealed in how he dealt with the Clutters: placing them in comfortable positions before he killed them, and shooting Herb after realizing he was still alive and in agony despite having his throat cut.

14.

It was wrong of me to hate him; I've got nothing but pity for him now.


Eunice Hickock, The Corner (Part 3)

Eunice Hickock states this about Perry after hearing Alvin Dewey's testimony, which reveals Perry Smith's and Dick Hickock's confessions. Eunice has blamed Perry Smith for her son's increased criminal behavior, and refused to allow him into her house. But after hearing how Perry stopped Dick from raping Nancy Clutter and admitted to all four murders to spare Dick's parents, Eunice realizes she'd been wrong to hate Perry, and now feels only pity for him.

15.

I don't believe in capital punishment, morally or legally.


Perry Smith, The Corner (Part 6)

Perry Smith says this right before he is hanged. This view of capital punishment is contrary to Alvin Dewey's, who feels that with regard to this particular crime, the punishment has been earned. Although Hickock's hanging does not disturb Dewey, Perry's does, for Perry has always seemed to him childish and wounded.

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