In Cold Blood

Is In Cold Blood a Polemic Against Capital Punishment? 11th Grade

Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is critically acclaimed as a masterful portrayal of American crime and is known for the introduction of the concept of a “nonfiction novel.” At such crossroads of true events and storytelling, many criticisms can be drawn. For example, many have viewed the book as a polemic against capital punishment. It is easy to argue this is not the case, for surely Capote’s objective descriptive style and lack of opinionated comments do not exemplify what the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “a strong...attack against someone else’s opinions.” However, to ignore the text’s negative connotation towards capital punishment would be just skimming the surface of a book that certainly presents some form of a case against capital punishment, whether what one would refer to as a “polemic” or not. By the end of the book, the reader is not guided to feel any sense of joy or success from the hanging of two criminals, but rather some form of the opposite. Perhaps it does not go as far as to invoke sorrow or grief, but after getting to know the Clutter killers as characters and following along with their lives—from childhood to death row—the reader develops a sense of closeness to them, allowing Capote to craft a...

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