Analysis Of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

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The publication of In Cold Blood marked a great step in the history of literary journalism. Truman Capote goes so far as to identify his work as the first of a new genre—the so-called “nonfiction novel”—and he succeeds in making a creation that does not fit into any conventional literary categories. In Cold Blood combines the extensive fact-retrieving process of journalism with the symbolic, creative style of a novel, resulting in a work neither fact nor fiction. While filled with meticulous detail only years of research could produce, Capote’s manipulation of this research makes him an active presence in his writing; it also makes the book much more subjective than he asserts that it is. The confusing debate of what is fact versus what is…show more content…
Though Capote’s method of data gathering is questionable at best (authorial assertion comprises the sole proof of Capote’s fantastic memory that captures everything in an interview without a tape recorder), and the fact that a lot of his research was passed from witnesses to Harper Lee to the her notes and finally to Capote and his interpretation of these notes, it would still be inappropriate and unfounded to label his book a pure fiction; instead, we should modify his statement to say that everything in the book is factual to him. If anyone else had written the book, even using the same research and evidence that Capote used, the novel would read quite differently; the book as Perry’s personal memoir would also change it drastically; a first-person account of the effects of the murder on Holcomb by a member of the community would also have a different message. Yet all of these books, if executed properly, would be truthful: they all would just contain different truths, or different interpretations of the truth. Whether or not In Cold Blood is as factual as it contends to be, then, is an issue muddled by varying definitions of truth. The problem lies in a definition of…show more content…
In his interview with George Plimpton, Capote says (referring to the view of why Perry committed the murders) “I could have added a lot of other opinions. But that would have confused the issue, and indeed the book. I had to make up my mind and move toward that one view, always.” This statement can be enlarged in scope to resemble Capote’s editorial discretion througout the entirety of In Cold Blood: though his work is full of factual evidence, Capote admittedly edits the book with a certain purpose in mind, and his editing choices subconsciously affect the reader, possibly even moreso than a typical novel, since the reader is caught off guard while believing the book to be a “factual account.” For example, Capote portrays Perry in a very sensitive way, urging the reader to identify and sympathize with him even though some characters in the book, such as Perry’s sister, despise him. If Capote had focused on his sister’s point of view more than others, the reader would take from the story a negative view rather than a postive one; Capote’s real-life relationship with Perry, however, muddled his sense of objectivity and, in a strange way, cast Perry as a sort of fallen hero

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