Book In Cold Blood Analysis
The investigative team gets a lead off a man called Floyd Wells who used to be an employee of Herb Clutter's. He was a cellmate of Richard at Kansas State Penitentiary as well and is the one that told Richard about the safe that had inside of it cash that was inside the Clutters' house. After following up on this testimony, it is discovered that Richard and Perry were traveling during the time that the murder happened. During this time Richard and Perry have come back to the United States. The police then trace a stolen car to them, and they are caught in Las Vegas.
Their apprehension of Richard and Perry was only six weeks after the murders.During the interrogation process Richard was caught in his lies and he gave a confession, but says Perry committed all of the murders. Perry says that that they broke into the Clutters because Floyd Wells told them that Herb Clutter kept ten thousand dollars in a safe that was located inside the house. No safe was found, so Perry snapped took the knife, from Richard and slitting Mr.
Clutter's throat, and shot the rest of the family and then they fled the scene. They were trial in Garden City. Richard and Perry undergo a psychiatric evaluation, and it is concluded that both are suffering from mental illness.
Despite these findings, the court upholds the M'Naghten rule, which disregards mental illness in determining whether criminals are responsible for their actions. Richard and Perry were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. They were hanged on April 14th, 1965, in front of twenty witnesses.The book In Cold Blood spends a good amount developing that characters Richard and Perry.
Richard Hickock is more of the pushing factor in the team. He develops the idea to rob the Clutters as well as comes up with the idea of "no witnesses". He seems very content with his twisted lifestyle, and it was much more of a choice for him to become a criminal then a forced lifestyle because of past experiences, meaning that his he has no roots that can be directly related with his criminal tendencies, such as childhood neglect. Although, Richard was involved in a car accident that resulted in a head injury.
His father says that the day of the car accident he "wasn't the same boy". He spent most of his life being a low end criminal who is always looking for the easy way out. Perry Smith is a passive character who, prior to his murdering of the Clutters, was a sensitive, thoughtful, creative and very smart person. A theme throughout the novel is that Perry's has a very strong belief in fate.
He doesn't think that he can't do anything, and whatever is going to happen to him is going to happen to him regardless. This is one of his major personality traits, and where Richard somewhat balances him out. As Perry would be considered hyper aware of his situation, Richard is more carefree about what goes on and believes things will work out in his favor as long as he has a plan.
He follows the belief that anything that happens in his life will happen and things will always be like this. This is a trait that was most likely inherited by his traumatic childhood. This is something he most likely saw his parents and siblings show as his life went on.
His brother and sister committed suicide to avoid their lifes problems and his mother ran away from her own problems as well. Perry shows these traits in his personality throughout the story.The Clutter is what would be considered to be a textbook family. The farther holds everyone to very strictest standards, for example, he does not allow any alcohol or caffeine. He is especially strict with his children, for example, Nancy is almost never allowed out of the house after ten. However, he is an incredibly good provider for his family and employees.
After the clutter family is killed, the reaction is "amazement, shading into dismay; a shallow horror sensation that cold springs of personal fear swiftly deepened" (70)A very big theme of this book was mental illness and if the death penalty was the correct punishment for Richard and Perry. Both Perry and Dick's criminal tendencies are shown to have past experiences that can be linked to cause medical issues. Perry is a schizophrenia and suffers from paranoia, while Dick has brain damage from a concussion that was gained during a car accident.
The question of the murder trial is, are Perry and Richard still accountable for their actions or is their mental illness to blame? The book seems to very often to ask the question of whether the same moral standards should be applied to all people, regardless of their past and their life circumstances; or if Perry and Dick are in some way redeemable by the fact of their mental illness.
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