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Capote's developing relationship with the murderers in his nonfiction masterpiece is almost as intriguing as his writing style. In Cold Blood begins objectively enough. Capote evinces sympathy for the Clutter family and describes in gory detail the heinous acts of Perry Smith and Dick Hickock.
However, from the first time Capote discusses the murderers in "Part I: The Last to See Them Alive," he clearly shows that Hickock is a bullish character who leads and belittles Smith. While this from all accounts appears to be an accurate portrayal of the pair's relationship, Capote is careful to provide numerous examples of Hickock's mistreatment of Smith.
In "Part IV: The Corner," Capote meticulously outlines Smith's very difficult background, Dr. Satten's evaluation of Smith which can be interpreted by some readers as an excuse for Smith's actions, and Smith's childlike confession, in which he states,
" '[The Clutters] never hurt me. Like other people. Like other people have all my life. Maybe it's just that the Clutters were the one who had to pay for it.' "
While Capote certainly never directly writes in In Cold Blood that Smith should not be executed, his favorable opinion of Smith reveals itself through the author's more pitying depiction of Smith compared to his harsher evaluation of Hickock.
Overall, it is difficult to pinpoint one quotation that demonstrates Capote's bias; but interestingly, whenever my students read this book, they are disappointed that Capote did not devote more time to the victims and their fate than to the murderers, their travels, and their worldviews.
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