In Cold Blood

Perry Smith's Culpability in 'In Cold Blood' 12th Grade

In Truman Capote’s nonfiction novel, In Cold Blood, Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock were convicted of murdering the entire Clutter Family. When proven guilty, both Perry and Dick were sentenced to death. Though Perry had been the one to murder the members of the family, Dick had planned the whole thing. Without Dick’s planning, Perry would have never thought to kill that innocent family. Throughout the novel, the audience is given a look at the backgrounds and inner thoughts of the criminals. Dick was perfectly capable of determining right from wrong, yet he proceeded with the murders, keeping complete control of the situation. On the other hand, Perry (whom we learned later in the novel could have been a paranoid schizophrenic all along) had lost all control in the situation. Perry's childhood and mental health leads to the conclusion that he should be spared, and treated for his mental instability.

Authors often lead readers to feel compassion for the criminal- maybe regarding a mistreated, abusive childhood, or challenges and struggles they’ve had to face. Even though people understand the consequences of the crime, they feel sympathy for someone who’s had so much pain in their life. They assume that...

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