In Cold Blood

The Art of Manipulation 11th Grade

Famous novelist, Truman Capote, in his non-fiction book, In Cold Blood, recounts the murders of the Clutter family committed by Perry Smith and Dick Hickock. Although this book is considered non-fiction, critics have questioned the authenticity of Capote’s story over the years. Specifically, in two segments of text found on pages 107-113, Capote contrasts the two characters as they recount the same day from each of their perspectives. He manages to distort the reader’s perception of the two main characters in order to support his personal opinions of them. The placement and distortion of the juxtaposed texts allows Capote to manipulate his readers into viewing Hickock and Smith as he intends them to be perceived.

Capote contends with Smith’s hard upbringing throughout the entire book. In emphasizing the tribulations Smith dealt with, Capote appeals to the sympathetic emotions of his readers. “It was ‘painful’ to imagine that one might be ‘not just right’—particularly if whatever was wrong was not your own fault, but ‘maybe a thing you were born with.’” (Capote 110). It is undoubtedly Capote’s own interjections that lead the audience to associate Smith’s actions with his family and childhood experiences. The quotation marks...

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