Student Question

Why did Agent Dewey consider Nancy's cat's death important in In Cold Blood?

Quick answer:

Agent Dewey thinks Nancy's cat's death might be important because it may have been a prelude to the murders. Like the murder victims, the cat didn't die a natural death. He died of poisoning.



Expert Answers

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Agent Dewey is perusing Nancy Clutter's diary in search of clues that might lead to the solving of her brutal murder and that of her family. His eye had previously been caught by diary entries that referred to religious tensions between the Methodist Clutters and the Catholic Rupps. Nancy had been going out with Bobby Rupp, but as her father disapproved of Bobby's religion, he told his daughter to break off the relationship. This could well have provided Bobby with a very powerful motive for murder.

And yet the diary entry that Agent Dewey finds particularly intriguing is that which refers to the death of Nancy's cat, Boobs. According to the relevant diary entry, written just two weeks prior to her own death, Nancy found her cat lying dead in the barn. Apparently, this was no natural death; as far as Nancy was concerned, her cat had been poisoned.

Dewey thinks that the diary entry is quite important. If the cat really was poisoned, as Nancy suspected, then there's every chance that his killing was a “small, malicious” prelude to the murders of Nancy and her family. With this theory in mind, Dewey sets out to find the “special place” where Nancy had buried her pet.

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