Varij Jhaveri Mrs. Smith English 11 AP – 1st

Varij Jhaveri

Mrs. Smith

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English 11 AP – 1st

3 November 2017

Crisis in Holcomb

Capote’s novel In Cold Blood alternately
follows the people of the small town of Holcomb and the murderers following the
murder of a well-respected family. One of the purposes Capote has in writing
this novel is to reveal the different ways people react to significant events
that occur around them, particularly within a small community.

following the murders, people in Holcomb have reactions ranging from nonchalant
to extremely fearful. Those very close to the Clutters tend to be very upset by
the murders. For instance, Susan Kidwell was “puffy-eyed, sickened by spasms of
nausea” (71) and wanted to run to the Clutters’ house, even though they would
not allow her to be inside. Naturally, as Nancy’s friend, Susan is not thinking
rationally after the murder and is scared and upset. She does not want to lose
her friend, and this unexpected event causes her to have major reactions.
Although many in Holcomb are worried, there are some people who are not at all
concerned about the future. Mrs. Claire, was not at all shaken by the murders;
When Mother Truitt told of her fear, Mrs. Claire responded, “When your time
comes, it comes” (69). Mrs. Claire was one of the few who was completely
unconcerned about the future, believing that a person had no control over his
or her own destiny. However, she does not consider the main reason many people
were worried: the community is very close-knit, and a murder causes everyone to
become suspicious of each other. As Mrs. Hartman states, the people of Holcomb
“can’t look at each other without kind of wondering!” (70). Because of the murders
of well-respected people, the members of the community are now all suspicious
towards each other; as Holcomb had been a town where people would know and be
friendly among themselves, and no one believes that someone outside the
community had murdered the Clutters, everyone is now wondering whether they are
interacting with the murderers on a daily basis. The events that occurred in
Holcomb not only upset the people very close to the Clutters, it also shook the
sense of safety within the community.

addition to simply scaring some people, the murders in the Holcomb community change
the structure of the community in several ways. Some members of the community
left after the murders happened. The Ashidas, a family that was well-integrated
into the Holcomb community in many ways, decide that they are going to leave
Holcomb and move to Nebraska after the murders happened, because Mrs. Ashida
“felt something around here had come to an end” (116). Although they had been
considering moving for several months, they were regarded as being a part of
the community, and many in Holcomb did not want them to leave. With this
passage, Capote implies that, had the Clutters not been murdered, the Ashidas
likely would not be leaving. The murders made changes to the social
organization of Holcomb, and these changes are irreversible. In addition, when
the detectives from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation come to ask the
questions, “some of them cut deep” (85) and the investigation continued for over
a month. These investigations changed the daily lives of people, as a large
investigation occurring will affect a community because of perceptions of the
occurrences in the community. Bobby Rupp, Nancy’s boyfriend, was directly
affected, as he was the principle suspect immediately following the murders,
and others likely faced the same suspicion. The fear in the community destroyed
parts of the social foundation Holcomb was based upon.

Despite the initial reactions, after some time had passed, the people of
Holcomb do not all remain angry for a long time. Many do not have an
inexplicable rage against Dick and Perry; when the murderers are being
sentenced, many people in Holcomb, including the minister of the Church the
Clutters once attended, “are preaching against the death penalty” (266). After
the murder of a friend, many people would be extremely angry and seek
punishment against the murderers at all cost. Initially, it is likely that many
citizens of Holcomb would have wanted the killers killed; however, the
reluctance of many to want that during the actual sentencing reveals their
changed mindset after several months. The people of Holcomb also eventually
realize that life goes on, regardless of incidents in the community. At the end
of the novel, Susan states that Bobby “married a beautiful girl” (342). Capote
does not describe very much, but from this line, it can be inferred that the
town of Holcomb has largely returned to the state it was in before the murders.
Like Bobby, many in Holcomb have recovered following the conviction of the
murderers. The way Capote ends his novel represents the end to the grieving
cycle of the town of Holcomb. In Cold
Blood is written as evidence that a community will eventually recover from
a terrible event.

Capote uses In Cold Blood to explain
life in a small community, and how it changes after a terrible event occurs. The
people of the town of Holcomb experience a tragedy, and each person reacts in
different ways. These reactions change over time as the citizens’ lives
developed and the murders became insignificant to them, although some effects
of the tragedy remained. In the end, events occur and memories fade, but some
effects of an event will remain forever.


Works Cited

Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood. Kindle Store, Random House Inc, 2013,