Part 2, Chapters 11–14 Summary

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Perry still ponders the possibility that there is something “not right” about him and Dick. Though Dick claims to be normal, Perry keeps remembering the sounds of the Clutters’ begging. He relives the murder as Dick forgets about it. Perry wonders about his family. One of his sisters has lived a “normal” life, but his other sister jumped out of a window and his brother drove his wife to suicide and then took his own life. Perry had told Dick at their first meeting that he had killed a Black man named King. He said they both lived in a boarding house in Las Vegas. Perry had invited King to go for a ride and then beaten him to death with a chain. This story, however, was untrue; Perry never killed anyone. As they drive along the road, Dick swerves to hit a dog and rejoices in its death.

After Thanksgiving, many of the newsmen leave Holcomb, convinced that the Clutter murder will never be solved. At the Hartman’s Café, however, the local townspeople still gossip and pass on rumors. It is speculated that the intended victims were the Jones family, who lived next to the Clutters. They were richer than the Clutters were, so they are the focus of much talk. Mrs. Archibald William Warren-Browning, a transplant from northern England, talks about her initial fondness for the region. Now, however, the atmosphere has changed. Lester McCoy, who is a tenant farmer, plans to move because of the crime. Mrs. Ashida also announces that, acceding to her husband’s wishes, they are moving to Nebraska to buy a larger farm.

In Acapulco, Dick and Perry pick up Otto, a vacationing German lawyer. Along with Otto’s companion, known as The Cowboy, they go deep-sea fishing. Dick does not like the water and so lies around while Perry does the fishing. They have sold all the goods they had “bought” in Kansas City and talk about selling their car. Dick has promised to marry a couple of women already, and Perry is worried that Dick will spend all their money on girls. Otto sketches Perry as he fishes and does “nude studies” of Dick. When Perry catches a large fish, Otto takes some photographs of him holding up his catch.

Paul Helm, the husband of the Clutters’ housekeeper, continues to work on the Clutter property. He worries about what he is going to do for a job, but it does not much matter because he has only four months left to live. As he trims the flowers, Helm sees the upstairs curtains move. He runs to town for the sheriff, who returns to find a drifter inside the house. The drifter says he was just curious about the place because of the publicity. The sheriff looks inside the drifter’s car and finds a shotgun and a hunting knife.

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