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Where are accomplices shown in In Cold Blood and True History of the Kelly Gang?

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megangreenfie... | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 20, 2013 at 5:56 PM via iOS

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Where are accomplices shown in In Cold Blood and True History of the Kelly Gang?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 25, 2013 at 6:59 AM (Answer #1)

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Both novels contain figures who work in partnership with other people to accomplish their deeds. For Ned Kelly, he is clearly associated with other people, as the title suggests. His "gang" becomes very important to him, as although they commit crimes and are hunted by the police, they as a group achieve a heroic status amongst the poor people, who see them as championing their cause and fighting against injustice. Ned Kelly is supported in his final stand to the end by his gang, with figures such as Byrne, Dan Kelly and Hart dying in the final stand where Ned Kelly is captured alive and taken. Ned Kelly is thus supported by his gang and this allows him to build his heroic status.

In Capote's account of the infamous Clutter killings, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock are shown to work together in the killings, although the novel suggests that Perry Smith committed the murders himself with Dick Hickock acting as accomplice. In this text, however, the crime is obviously an act that is unquestionably wrong and does not gain Hickock and Smith the kind of popularity as Ned Kelly and his gang gained. What is interesting about this criminal partnership however is the way that Capote clearly focuses the reader's sympathies on the figure of Perry. Note the following description of how Perry encourages Dick to pick up some hitchikers:

But Perry, little old big-hearted Perry, was always pestering Dick to pick up the damndest, sorriest-looking people.

The description of Perry as "little old big-hearted Perry" clearly indicates Capote's bias towards Perry. Even though in this text Perry is shown to be the one who committed the murders a very interesting picture of Perry develops with Dick presented as more of a "true" criminal. Perry, it is suggested, is "better" than his accomplice because of the suffering he experienced as a child.

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