In Cold Blood - Narrative Style
Capote's structure in In Cold Blood is a subject that deserves discussion. The book is told from two alternating perspectives, that of the Clutter family who are the victims, and that of the two murderers, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith. The different perspectives allow the reader to relive both sides of the story; Capote presents them without bias. Capote masterfully utilizes the third person omniscient point of view to express the two perspectives. The non-chronological sequencing of some events emphasizes key scenes.
The victims, the murderers, the victims, the murderers,...-- this is the pattern throughout the first two of the three parts of In Cold Blood. During these first two parts of the novel, the reader is gathering pieces of the puzzle leading up to the slaughtering of the Clutter family. Ultimately, the paths of the murderers and their victims come together and climax in the multiple shotgun murders.
The alternating perspective enables the reader to assimilate both sides of the story. For example, in part one, " Nancy and her music tutee, Jolene Katz, were also satisfied..." (24). Whereas the next section begins " The two young men [Dick and Perry] had little in common, but they did not realize it, for they shared a number of surface traits" (30).
This nonfiction work is for the most part unbiased. Capote's extensive research on this real-life event is not marred by his own personal feelings about the crime committed. The fact that he tells both sides of the story adds to the objectivity. Capote doesn't render judgment for two reasons: it is important for the reader to draw conclusions about the "philosophical-sociological-psychological circumstances of the mass murder," and Capote concluded that there should be no interference with the readers' judgmental process (Reed 107). The narrator, up to the criminals' day of execution, shows no bias whatsoever; the trial could have been an easy opportunity for the narrator to express his own opinions on how the...