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Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are the most famous gangsters in history. Between 1932 and 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression, they went from petty thieves to world-famous bank robbers and murderers. Despite the romanticization of their image, the couple committed at least 13 murders, including two police officers, as well as a series of robberies and kidnappings, all of which make them some of the most dangerous criminals in American history.
Analysis of Bonnie and Clyde’s Popularity and Crime Toll
Bonnie Elizabeth Parker was born on October 1, 1910 in Rowena, Texas. She had an older brother and a younger sister. When Bonnie was just four years old, her father died, and the mother moved with her children to her parents in suburban Dallas. The girl went to a local school and succeeded in her studies, especially in poetry and literature (Guinn 25). The petite, graceful, and attractive Bonnie dreamed of a career as an actress, so nothing foretold her criminal future.
While in high school, she began dating a classmate named Roy Thornton. In September 1926, shortly before her sixteenth birthday, they married, and the girl tattooed their names on her right thigh. However, Thornton did not hesitate to use physical violence against his young wife, so their union fell apart and they did not officially divorce. In 1929, Roy was sentenced to five years in prison for robbery, and Bonnie moved in with her grandmother, then they never saw each other (Guinn 28). Apparently, Thornton served as an unfortunate “inspiration” for Parker, possibly even traumatizing her enough to step on the criminal path.
Clyde was born on March 24, 1909 in Tellico, Texas, was the fifth of seven children in a low-income family, and Clyde was a modest and unpretentious boy. He attended school until the age of 16 and cherished the dream of becoming a musician, so he learned to play guitar and saxophone. However, under the influence of his older brother Buck Clyde, he soon embarked on a criminal path, then began stealing cars and finally got into armed robbery. In 1929, when he was 20, Clyde was already hiding from the law and wanted for several robberies (Guinn 17). Clyde’s path to crime was somewhat different to that of Bonnie’s, however, was still “inspired” by someone from his environment. The tragedy was, thus, only a matter of time.
Until 1933, gang members were wanted for several murders, including government officials, and worked with Clyde's brother, Buck, and his wife, Blanche. In June, Bonnie was seriously injured in a car accident. The girl's leg was badly burned with battery acid (Guinn 78). Despite all the government's attempts to catch the criminals, the couple successfully managed to escape from the hands of the police within two years.
After a member of a gang named Henry Matvin killed an Oklahoma police officer, the hunt flared up with renewed vigor. On the morning of May 23, 1934, Bonnie and Clyde were finally caught. They were ambushed by police on a Louisiana highway. By the way, the ambush was initiated by Henry Matvin's father, who hoped to earn indulgence for his son. In the shootout, Clyde and Bonnie were killed by a hail of bullets, each of them received nearly twenty gunshot wounds (“Bonnie and Clyde”). The complexity of the police operation as well as the long pursuit have proven Bonnie and Clyde not only as a mischievous couple, but also as skilled criminals who were creative in their ways to avoid punishment.
More than a hundred bullets rattled the car and the legendary Ford froze on the roadside. The two bloodied bodies that only a minute ago were the legendary robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, they were considered among the most famous bandits in the United States. The law harassed Bonnie and Clyde in a dozen states for shooting anyone who tried to stop them. The news of their death spread through all the world's newspapers, but no one believed it (“Bonnie and Clyde”). And only when the public was presented with photos of corpses and an expert opinion on the death, the Americans were convinced that they had lost their clumsy heroes.
Bonnie and Clyde became celebrities in two years, they managed to become national heroes, the modern Robin Hood and the girl Mary. Despite their brutal crimes and unattractive details of their lives, Bonnie and Clyde are steadily romanticized by the entertainment media, and their story has formed the basis of movies and musicals. The car in which they died, riddled with bullets, is on public display in Las Vegas, Nevada.
"Bonnie And Clyde". Federal Bureau Of Investigation, 2022, https://www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/bonnie-and-clyde.
Guinn, Jeff. Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story Of Bonnie And Clyde. Simon & Schuster, Limited, 2012.
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