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Literature Study GuidesIn Cold BloodThe Last To See Them Alive Part 4 Summary

In Cold Blood | Study Guide

Truman Capote

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Course Hero. "In Cold Blood Study Guide." November 28, 2016. Accessed June 10, 2023.


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In Cold Blood | The Last to See Them Alive (Part 4) | Summary



Herb Clutter buys a double-indemnity life insurance policy from Bob Johnson who drives to the Clutter farm. Bobby Rupp, Nancy Clutter's boyfriend, describes his last visit at the Clutter house on the evening of the murders. He and Nancy watch television with Kenyon and Herb. Kenyon Clutter is agitated and wants to practice his horn, but Bonnie is asleep so he can't. Bobby and Nancy make a date to go to the movies on the next night, Sunday evening. Bobby leaves at around 10:30 p.m., getting in his car and driving off. Thinking about the night later, he wonders if someone was hiding by the trees, waiting for him to leave the Clutter house. Nancy goes to bed in her very girlish bedroom. As she does every night, she writes in her diary a list of all the things she did during the day.

Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, meanwhile, have dinner about seven miles away from Holcomb, buy adhesive tape and cigars at a drugstore, and stop at a gas station where they make the young attendant uneasy. Perry, whose deformed legs give him constant pain, locks himself in the men's room to take the aspirin to which he's addicted. When he puts on the rubber gloves, one tears; he feels this to be an omen. While waiting, Dick begins to worry Perry is losing his nerve and isn't a "natural killer." The reader discovers Dick has been stringing Perry along, flattering him, pretending to like the same things, so that Perry will carry out Dick's plans.


In this part, the last hours of the Clutters' lives are recorded. The description of Nancy Clutter, her diary, and her room, as well as her plans to go to the movies with her boyfriend, are particularly poignant. They highlight the immense sadness those in Holcomb feel after the Clutters are murdered. Losing a girl like Nancy just as she was reaching the prime of her teenage life is heartbreaking, not only for her boyfriend and her best friends but also for the younger children who benefited from her tutoring and attention.

The gas station attendant tells his boss about the "tough customers" who pulled into the station the previous night, foreshadowing what is to come.

The real story behind Dick Hickock's relationship with Perry Smith is revealed in this part. Dick pretends to agree with Perry's big dreams and yearnings so that he can use Perry and get him to do the dirty work of the crime. Perry keeps trying to shift their plans toward wearing masks and not killing anyone, but Dick is determined to leave no witnesses. When the killers finally pull into the Clutter driveway near the elms, the moment echoes Bobby wondering if someone was in the trees, waiting for him to leave.

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