In Cold Blood

By this point of the book, we have learned a great deal about Dick and Perry’s criminal relationship and friendship together. Describe their relationship. How does each character seem to fulfill a need for the other character?

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Homoerotic desire is just below the surface of the relationship between Dick and Perry, between Perry and Willie-Jay, and, more implicitly, in the meta-textual relationship of Truman Capote to his two subjects. Whether or not these attractions were overtly acknowledged or even consciously realized by their subjects (Capote thought it was likely that both men had repressed these feelings), they are a palpable subtext of the narrative and serve several functions. On one level, they elucidate the relationship of Dick and Perry, adding a layer of intensity to their interactions that helps to explain why, for example, they might have become so frustrated at the Clutter home, or why so much of Perry’s self-image rests on Dick’s opinion of him. But the theme of homosexuality also functions as a larger symbol of, and premise for, Dick and Perry’s status as outsiders, social misfits for whom conventional society seems to have no place. At the time that In Cold Blood was penned, homosexuals were considered a threat to the social order, so much so that the F.B.I. kept official watch lists in order to monitor their activities. This unspoken element of their relationship heightens the intensity of their clash with conservative, small-town American life, and raises the stakes of the murder trial by a perceptible margin.