How do you best characterize James Latham and George York in the book In Cold Blood by Capote?

Expert Answers
linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

They were cold-blooded killers. Capote's book is a fictionalized account of the true murders of the Clutter family by Perry Smith and Richard Hickok. While they were awaiting execution on death row, George York and James Latham are sentenced to death killing seven people. While Smith and Hickok were in Leavenworth because their crime was committed in Kansas, York and Latham were sent there because they were active-duty military who went AWOL and committed a cross-country killing spree. Smith and Hickok committed murder out of greed; they had heard that Herbert Clutter kept thousands of dollars in his safe at home. York and Latham, however, decided that life was not worth living and decided to end the lives of others.

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bwp | Student

They were Dick & Perry's fellow deathrow inmates in Capote's true-fiction novel, "In Cold Blood". Capote probably found it necessary to detail their horrible crimes and flippant attitudes as a means of lessening what his main charactors did, further endearing them to the reader.

The presence of Latham & York (as well as Andy) and the snide remarks they made, added to the ambiance of where Dick & Perry spent their final days. Their inclusion helped to create a cruel, yet almost cozy death-row "family", even as the shadows of "the Corner" loomed from the men's cell-room windows.