Analysis of cold blood

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Capote's use of the classic conventions of sensationalism in his true crime stories; where does he deviate from the genre's old rules?
Truman Capote's journalistic book 'In Cold Blood' depicts the assassination of a family and how the murders affected Kansas and its inhabitants. Sensationalism is a common reporting tactic that writers use to describe and explore violent catastrophes by explaining the scenes and how the incidents happened. Capote used sensationalism at the start of the book, as shown by the cover, 'In Cold Blood.' Capote explains the deaths in Chapter one, titled ‘The Last to See Them Alive.' The book`s first chapter is an example of Capote`s utilization of sensationalism as a technique that aims to increase the curiosity of the reader in a bid to encourage further reading. At the time of the release of the true story novel, the case was already well known including the outcome of the trial. This explains Capote`s use of sensationalism, more so in creating morbid curiosity to the readers in an attempt to draw them further into the read.

However, as the story unfolds, Capote diverts from the sensationalistic approach. He instead focuses on the finer details of the story, the types that rarely make it to daily newspapers. Capone takes a meaningful approach as he understands the importance of providing unknown information, more so in telling such a story that had gained mass attention.

How secondary characters like the Kansas milieu and the townspeople shape the telling of the story

Kansas was described as a still town where everyone knew each other, or at least almost everyone (Truman, 3). Capote, in his description of the true story, appears to be aware of the significance of using the town itself and its nature of social interactions as a secondary character. As a result of this, the reader becomes aware of the significance of the crime, especially to such a calm town that had never experienced such an occurrence before. This increases curiosity as to why such an event occurred in Kansas and what were the tiny details that led to the murders. Further, Capote`s use of secondary characters helps provide a different perspective. It enables him to portray different aspects of the murderers, appealing to the reader`s emotions which make it appear as though he is empathizing with the antagonists. The townsmen and characters such as the ‘ladies of the town’ assist Capote in describing how the turn of events affected people and the type of reactions the unfortunate occurrence solicited. Furthermore, the townsmen provide a glimpse of before and after which can be seen from how the murders changed their lives. For instance, Alfred Stoecklein moved from the Clutter property to a house that was closer to the road after the murders (Truman, 66). Capote relies on the nature of Kansa`s as a calm, uneventful town to provide a profound description of how the murders impacted the entire town.

How knowing the ending where Smith and Hickock were sentenced affects my reading of the book

Most novels are written as mysteries in a bid to grab the reader`s attention. However, Capote`s decision to start with the end helps him appeal to the readers need for additional information. The knowledge of the ending of the story even before it was written increases curiosity on the author`s intentions. The prospect of gaining further knowledge of the controversial case attracts readers to the book due to the awareness that no other source can describe the events from a personalized perspective as done in the novel.

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Works Cited

Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequence. Random House, 1969.

August 31, 2021

Crime Literature


Literary Genres Books

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Murder Novel In Cold Blood

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