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In Cold Blood Analysis Essay: Tips, Tricks, and Ideas

In Cold Blood is a famous novel by Truman Capote about two criminals who murder a wealthy farmer family. The plot is based on real events, even the names of victims and murderers have not been changed. With this book, Capote pioneered the New Journalism style – the use of literary techniques for a non-fiction story. Moreover, the novel provides one of the deepest insights into the nature of criminality in American literature. If you have to write an analysis essay on In Cold Blood, focus on either one of the book’s significant themes or a literary device used to create the necessary effect. Here are few topic suggestions for both alternatives.

Themes

  • Undermining the American dream.

    In Cold Blood is often viewed as a story where the local farmer community’s vision of the American dream as being safe, secure, and in control of their lives is shattered by Clutter killings. Search the text for evidence in support of this point of view (or the evidence disproving it).

  • The banality of evil.

    Both protagonists, the murderers, change drastically over the course of the book. At the beginning, they are portrayed as cold-blooded and brutal, almost inhuman creatures. By the end, they turn into individuals whose actions are quite understandable and can be sympathized. Look at how the author develops his characters to achieve this effect.

  • Homosexuality.

    The relationships between Dick and Perry are typically viewed as mutual but suppressed homoerotic desire. Search the text for evidence proving this point of view. Also, look for evidence of implied homosexual relationships between other characters of the novel. Analyze how this aspect adds to the portrayal of protagonists as social outcasts (at the age when this novel was written, homosexual individuals were considered a danger to the society).

Literary Devices

  • Cinematic techniques in the novel.

    In Cold Blood is often called “a cinematic book”. Look for writing techniques that are more typical for scenarios than for novels, and discuss how their use is justified.

  • Epic style in the novel.

    Look for literary devices that relate In Cold Blood to classical Greek dramas, to which this novel is often compared. Draw a conclusion on whether it is right to call this book “a modern-day epic.”

  • Perry’s final apologies as a fiction element in a realistic narrative.

    It is known that Perry’s apologies for his crime before hanging were invented by Capote – the real Perry did not say it. Discuss whether this embellishment helps achieve the author’s purpose (arose sympathy for the protagonists) or undermines it by making the character unrealistic.