In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood: Gender Roles Between Dick Hickock and Perry Smith College

In our society—past and present, gender norms have presented themselves in a moderately strict frame of which personality traits are to be expected from males and females. In past traditional expectations regarding gender, it was the women’s role to be the more passive, more submissive caretaker, often hindering them from becoming involved in social and political situations. For men, the expectation was always to be the one to assert dominance through their masculinity. The more masculine and dominant a man was, the more likely it was that they would be successful. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood presents the significant contrast within a specific gender role through the way that Capote chooses to present Dick Hickock and Perry Smith’s relationship.

Dick and Perry are the two ex-convicts and now murderers of the Clutter Family. The criminal pair have both a complementary and polarized gender relationship. Dick is portrayed as the more masculine person, fitting the socially standard definition of masculinity. He was often seen as “aggressively heterosexual” and well-liked by many women (Stuckey-French, 2015). Throughout the novel, Capote emphasizes Dick’s masculinity, usually from the perspective of Perry admiring Dick....

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