On how Truman Capote interviewed witnesses from In Cold Blood
How Truman Capote Interviewed Witnesses From In Cold Blood
According to Truman Capote, he based his non-fiction story on a true story that he conducted the interview with the local residents and investigators assigned to the case. He further conducted more interviews with the suspected killers, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith in the prison cells. In one of the interviews he attended, Capote points out that most of the scenes in the movie were filmed in the specific locations where the incidences took place.
As a stranger within Kansas, Capote finds it hard to find the answers that he came in search of. Most of the people in the neighborhood did not know him and feared speaking about the incident with him. He meets his longtime friend Nelle Haper Lee who helps him in relating with the people he wanted to talk to and in the event he is introduced to the Hopes who later introduced him to Dewey, an agent who worked in the case. Dewey and Capote become best of friends and thus Capote is able to get more evidence to write in his book.
As Clutters suspected killers were caught in Las Vegas and brought back to Kansas, Lee and Capote had a chance to interview them personally about the crime. And it is at this particular time that Capote started working on his article that later evolved to be the non-fiction master piece, In Cold Blood. Although he was denied an interview initially, citing that interviews with such condemned prisoners has no constructive purpose. He further insisted to Warden Sherman Crouse until he was granted an opportunity to get the required information he needed from the inmates, while his colleague, Lee, tried to correspond with Smith but was denied the opportunity.
During his time in prison, Hickock talked about his life story with another person other than Capote, Mack Nations, and confessed all his life history to Mack. Hickock gave Mack Nations exclusive rights over his life history and at one point Mack threatened to sue Hickock of going against their contract, since he told Capote the story. In the event, Mack Nations wrote an article by the name “From the Death House A condemned Killer Tells How He committed America’s Worst Crime.”
Capote interviewed the meat-packing executive from Omaha, Mr. Bell, since he was the man who picked up Perry and Dick as they were hitchhiking across Nebraska. Mr. Bell was going to be murdered by the two criminal and thereafter, they were to take off with his car. However, he was saved by a Negro hitchhiker whom he slowed down to pick up just as Perry was about to smash his head.
After the death of the Clutters, the police came out and said that Dick and Perry had left a living witness and that is how Floyd Wells is introduced into Capote’s story. Floyd Wells recalled of how he told Dick and Perry about the Clutters and the property they own. From that information he revealed to them, the two promised to steal the property from the Clutter family and that is how Floyd came to conclude that Perry and Dick committed the murder.
Capote interviewed Nancy’s boyfriend with whom they had gone out on a date the previous time and he also described the Clutter family as one without enemies. However, his version of the story was not taken into account until he passed a polygraph test, hence made the investigators remove him among the suspects list. On the other hand, Nancy’s school mate who was part of the people that visited the house was also interviewed.
Capote attends the trials of the suspects in court so as to get more information regarding the case and he even goes as far as attending the execution of the culprits. Moreover, Capote used the media briefs that were also provided by the radios at that moment. Radio broadcaster Tony Jewell was the first journalist to arrive at the scene on that fateful day and he broke the news to the area. Capote used Jewell’s information in his book as he explained the condition within the house at that particular time.
The evidences presented in court show the actual tools that the two suspects used in killing the Clutter family. The Gun and the Knife were the physical evidence that the court attorney presented before the magistrate. From the statements in the book, Mr. Clutter’s throat was slaughtered and all the family members were shot in the head. This easily shows that the evidences provided might have been easily used. Moreover, the blood stains in the evidence cord had been said to be Mr. Clutter’s blood stain.
While describing the investigation, Capote selectively and carefully gives the audience the information, whereby the interrogation narrowed down the prisoner’s life story to some events that happened the past seven weeks and thereafter reduced them to a concentrated recapitulation of the main weekend. From that point, the slow, methodical narrative is seen to be revealing the whole story with all the evidence.
From Capote’s interview with Perry, it is evident that nuclear family is considered as the bedrock of the society in Garden City and Holcomb. The book contains different families with different situations and the author goes further to suggest that family is not always determined by only blood. A family has been portrayed as something that can protect you in any time of need. In this case, a lack of family tie makes Perry a social misfit within the society. On the other hand, a great family will not always guarantee one that he or she will be okay; Dick and Lee Andrews are prime suspects in this case.
The above media sample was a newspaper headline that indicated the court decision to execute the two murderers after failing in their appeals for five years. During the execution process, Capote and Lee attended the event, since it was held in a public place.
Capote, T. (1992). In cold blood: a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences. New York: Modern Library.
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