How is nature versus nurture portrayed in In Cold Blood?

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At the heart of In Cold Blood lies the question of how the central event—the brutal and meaningless killings of the Clutter family—could have been perpetrated by two men whose outward appearance and behavior were basically that of ordinary human beings. The one who actually committed the murders, Perry Smith, was a man who might have been described as "sensitive" and who had artistic ambitions. Everyone who dealt with the case struggled with the mystery of what motivated these men. The "nature" vs. " nurture" issue has always been one of importance to psychologists, but there has never been a definitive resolution of it. In this book, Capote makes no attempt to draw an actual conclusion as to which of these forces is the decisive or more powerful one. He merely lays out the evidence and leaves it to us as readers to evaluate it.

Most observers would regard the "nurture" aspect of Perry's background as significant: he had an abusive father and an alcoholic mother. With Dick, on the...

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