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In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

            In Truman Capote's novel In Cold Blood, he recounts the gruesome murder of a well respected Kansas family. The Clutter's lived in the small town of Holcomb where Herbert W. Clutter was a successful farmer. He was known for being an honest and fair man with no enemies. The murders shocked the town and created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty because no one had any clue who would be able to commit such a heinous crime. The men responsible were Perry Smith and Dick Hickock. Both men had long criminal histories and an inclination for violence. In the novel, Capote gives insight into the background of the killers which allows the reader to understand how they evolved into murderers. Richard Hickock and Perry Smith both suffered from mental illness caused by their pasts; although they were guilty of the crime, putting them to death was unjust because of their mental health and because they were deprived of the right to live.
             Perry had a difficult childhood to say the least. He lived in a household where his parents were constantly fighting and that took a toll on him. Soon his alcoholic mother ran off with his three other siblings and left him with his father. His father didn't have the money to support a child so Perry floated from child homes for most of his early life. Here he started to receive physical and mental abuse from the nuns and other boys. He was continuously bullied because he was half Native American and because he was smaller than most of the boys. He recalls a memory of a shelter where "[t]hey hated me, too. For wetting the bed. And being half-Indian. There was this one nurse she used to call me 'nigger' and say there wasn't any difference between niggers and Indians" (132). These are harsh words for anyone to hear let alone a boy who wasn't even ten years old. Later in life Perry developed anger issues that often led him to make poor decisions. It is very possible that the constant abuse he faced as a child were at the root of his anger problems.

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