Part 4, Chapters 19–22 Summary

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Within the American justice system, there are several avenues of appeal in capital cases, which may drag out the length of time between sentencing and execution. Lowell Lee Andrews’s case goes through appeals several times before he is executed on November 30, 1962. He takes nineteen minutes to die after the trap door falls and his neck breaks. Perry, Dick, and the two soldiers listen through their cell windows and comment on the nonchalance Andrews shows on his way to his execution. Dick has been given a portion of Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” though he does not know for sure if Andrews wrote it or copied it. Dick comments that Andrews knew a lot of information from books but nothing from real life. Perry does not regret Andrews’s death; he is unable to forgive him for correcting his grammar.

Dick’s mother continues to visit once a month and becomes friends with Mrs. York, the mother of one of the two soldiers also awaiting execution. The two women plan to live together in Florida, which Dick thinks is a good deal because it will allow his mother to get away from “all this.” Andrews’s aunt and uncle had visited Andrews once and told him that they would take his body back with them so he could be buried with his family, which Dick sees as laughably ironic.

Three more years pass, and more appeals are made on behalf of Perry and Dick. Two new lawyers examine Dick’s request for a new trial. Because of the numerous appeals, three new execution days go by without a hanging. The case is carried before the United States Supreme Court three times, but the justices refuse to hear the case. Their final date of execution is set for Wednesday, April 14, 1965, five and a half years after they killed the four members of the Clutter family. Alvin Dewy and the other KBI agents attend the execution. Dick is hanged first and is pronounced dead twenty minutes after the trap door drops. Perry is executed second, and Dewey notices how small Perry’s feet appear as they swing below the trap door.

Alvin Dewey goes to the Garden City cemetery to take care of his father’s grave. He notices the grave of Judge Tate, who died a few months previously from pneumonia. Mrs. Ashida, who had moved with her family to Nebraska, was killed in a car accident while she was back visiting; her grave is also in the cemetery. The Clutters are buried under a single stone. Dewey sees Susan Kidwell there. She is now a student at the University of Kansas, where she and Nancy Clutter had planned to go together. Bobby Rupp has married. As Susan leaves, Dewey thinks what a nice young woman she has become, such as Nancy Clutter might have been if she had lived.

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Part 4, Chapters 16–18 Summary