In Cold Blood Questions and Answers
by Truman Capote

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In the book In Cold Blood, why was Perry convicted of premeditated murder? When does the text mention his wanting to kill the Clutter family?

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In the book In Cold Blood, author Truman Capote chronicles the brutal murder of the Clutter family in rural Kansas in the 1960's. Capote spent a great deal of time interviewing the accused murderers, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith. Perry Smith was convicted of premeditated murder because the two planned the home invasion and, at Perry’s urging, they killed the Clutters to eliminate any witnesses to their crime. Moreover, Perry admits that he actually committed the killings.

The irony and horrible inherent contradiction within the book is that the killers can appear to be sympathetic at times. For instance, when Dick tells Perry about his family, Perry says, “I understand ... They’re good people. She’s a real sweet person, your mother.” Also, Capote notes of Perry’s response to The Lord’s Prayer that, “the hymn’s grave language sung in so credulous a spirit moved him.”

The depiction of Dick and Perry as polite young men occurs so often, that at times the reader nearly does a...

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