In Cold Blood: How The Death Of A Loved One Can Change A Person’s Personality

How does the death of a loved one change one’s personality? The 1966 nonfiction novel In Cold Blood by Truman Capote tells the story of the murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959. The death of Mr. and Mrs. Clutter and their two children impacted the community because everyone in Holcomb loved and respected the Clutter family. The murders left people devastated, but three people were affected the most. Alvin Dewey became overwhelmed with the investigation, Perry Smith understands no one respects him, and Richard Eugene Hickock can not experience any sense of emotion.

In the second chapter, Capote introduces the reader to Alvin Dewey, the leader of the investigation. With a family of three and trying to balance work and home life, Dewey began to lose himself. Dewey became overwhelmed from the pressure of the townspeople to find the killers. His wife wondered if his life would ever be normal again. In the second chapter states: As darkness fell, Dewey interrupted the consultation to telephone his wife, Marie, at their home, and warn her that he wouldn’t be home for dinner. She said, “Yes. All right, Alvin,” but he noticed in her tone an uncharacteristic Anxiety. Dewey was to spend many hours examining these photographs, hoping that he might “suddenly see something,” that a meaningful detail would declare itself.

Alvin Dewey spent so much time on the case that it intervened with his personal life. The death of the Clutter family scared him because they were good friends. Dewey would do anything to find the killers, even if it mean losing connection with his wife.

In the first chapter, Capote introduces the reader to Perry Smith, one of the suspects in the murder trial. A long history of violence and neglect as a child lets the reader understand why no one respects Smith. As Capote notes, “ Perry felt “’all by myself. Like somebody covered with sores. Somebody only a big nut would have anything to do with’’’.

Smith always felt that no one gave him a chance and if he had gone to school, he would be a different person. Smith was arrested for the murders of the Clutter family; Smith acknowledged after his father and sister did not come to visit him in jail that no one respects him and he feels alone.

In the first chapter, Capote also introduces the reader to Richard Hickok, one of the suspects in the murder trial. Hickok came from a nice family, but he appears to lack empathy. Hickok felt life has not given him what he wanted and entitled to take advantage of people. In the novel Hickok stated: I know it is wrong. But at the time I never give any thought to whether it is right or wrong. The same with stealing. It seems to be an impulse. One thing I never told you about the Clutter deal is this. Before I ever went to their house I knew there would be a girl there. 

Hickok does not care about others’ feelings. When Hickock was arrested, he begins to talk to his cellmate and learns that he shows no emotion after he describes the murder. He simply can not take the perspective of others or understand how someone else feels. Hickock feels no remorse.

It is clear death can change one’s way of thinking and cause one to look at things differently. Alvin Dewey, Perry Smith, and Richard Hickock were affected by the murder of the Clutter family emotionally or physically. After the murder trial, they all learn something about themselves that they had never understood. Smith would have not known why no one respects him, Hickock would have not known that he expresses no remorse, and Alvin discovers how much the Clutter family means to him. This essay explains how the death of a loved one can change a person’s personality.

Works Cited

  • Capote, Truman. In Clod Blood. Modern Library 1992 ed. New York: Random House, Inc., 1995. Electronic PDF. Accessed 24 Oct. 2019.  
16 December 2021
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