In the book In Cold Blood, author Truman Capote shows sympathy for Perry Smith, one of the two killers of the Clutter family in rural Kansas in the 1960s, in a number of places. This includes eliciting pity for Perry because of his physical deformities and also attempting to...
In the book In Cold Blood, author Truman Capote shows sympathy for Perry Smith, one of the two killers of the Clutter family in rural Kansas in the 1960s, in a number of places. This includes eliciting pity for Perry because of his physical deformities and also attempting to humanize him by providing detailed descriptions of his hobbies, thoughts, and unhappy upbringing.
Early in the book, Capote provides a description of Perry’s appearance that is designed to evoke pity:
... some sections of him were not in proportion to others. His tiny feet, encased in short black boots with steel buckles, would have neatly fitted into a delicate lady’s dancing slippers; when he stood up, he was no taller than a twelve-year-old child, and suddenly looked, strutting on stunted legs that seemed grotesquely inadequate to the grown-up bulk they supported, not like a well-built truck driver but like a retired jockey, overblown and musclebound ...
Other details play on the reader’s sympathy. For instance, Perry’s impossible dream of being a lounge singer is conveyed in terms that evoke pity, not derision. We are also told that Perry had been maimed and, at one point, “spent half a year in a State of Washington hospital and another six months on crutches.” As a result of the accident that sent him to the hospital in the first place, Perry still endured tremendous pain.
Perry's hobbies that include reading and drawing are admirable, as is his interest in religion. For instance, in writing of a fellow inmate, Capote says Perry had “an ambition to bring this boy to God,” although further on, Capote says Perry’s spiritual quest was “never very earnest.”
Perry is depicted as someone who has never gotten over a difficult background. Capote says,
Perry could be “such a kid,” always wetting his bed and crying in his sleep (“Dad, I been looking everywhere, where you been, Dad?”).
Capote also says that Dick had often seen Perry “sit for hours just sucking his thumb,” which paints a pathetic picture of a man-boy who has been abused by family and society.