In Cold Blood | Study Guide

Truman Capote

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Course Hero, "In Cold Blood Study Guide," November 28, 2016, accessed December 17, 2017, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/In-Cold-Blood/.

In Cold Blood | The Corner (Part 1) | Summary

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Summary

Perry Smith and Dick Hickock are kept in separate cells in the jail on the fourth floor of the Garden City courthouse. Perry has the one cell reserved for female prisoners, an isolated unit inside the adjacent Sheriff's Residence. Josie Meier, the wife of the undersheriff, cooks Perry meals and mends his clothes, and they talk frequently. Perry gives more information to the investigators, allowing them to recover the radio he stole. He receives a letter from Don Cullivan, an army mate. Perry doesn't remember Don's name but remembers his face from the photograph Don sends. Perry writes back and begins to correspond regularly with Don.

Both Perry and Dick plot escape plans, which do not pan out. Dick even fashions a makeshift weapon from wood and wire; the police find it under his mattress during a cell search. Both accused men agree to take a lie detector test about their involvement in the murder of the Walker family in Florida, which occurred a month after the Clutter crime. The polygraph results are negative. Attorneys Arthur Fleming and Harrison Smith are assigned by the court to represent Perry and Dick, respectively.

Although Dick's father visits him, Perry receives neither letters nor visits from his father and sister. He spends most of his time talking to Josie Meier or training the squirrel he lures into his cell through the window.

Analysis

Both Perry Smith and Dick Hickock feel their lawyers are not interested in helping them, and Capote shows they are right. Neither lawyer wants the job because the evidence—and local sentiment—against the two defendants is so strong. Both men know they will hang.

Despite his anger at Dick "for being such a coward," Perry retracts his statement about Dick killing the Clutter women. Perry admits to all four murders out of consideration for Dick's parents, especially his mother. Perry thinks she might take comfort in knowing Dick did not pull the trigger. His admission, a show of "honor among thieves," shows another facet of his complex and contradictory nature.

Don Cullivan proves to be a valuable friend, keeping Perry calm and being there for him. Don wants to convert Perry to Christianity, but Perry sets Don straight, telling him nothing could be done to convert him to any religion. He considers himself a lost cause.

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