In Cold Blood Close Reading and Analysis Questions “The Last to See Them Alive” 1. How does Capote build suspense even though the reader knows the ultimate outcome from the beginning? Pg. 62 Capote builds suspense by letting us know that the Clutter’s were murdered, but he doesn’t give us all of the details from the killer’s point of view until the very end. 2. What are some details Capote provides to describe the town of Holcomb, Kansas. Pg. 3-5 The author describes Holcomb being on the “high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call ‘out there’”.
There’s “not much to see” with it’s prairie lands, and wheat fields. It’s a friendly town, quiet- unless there’s gossip to be heard. 3. Who is Alvin Dewey? Pg. 80 Alvin Dewey was one of the main detectives working on the case. 4. Capote carefully depicts the personalities of secondary characters such as Alvin Dewey and Bobby Rupp.
Why does he do this? What is the significance of these secondary characters? Capote goes into detail of the secondary characters to let you know more about them. I think that’s his way of introducing all of the characters in the story.
The significance of doing this is to let you feel like you know the characters personally. 5. What were the only “serious clues” that were found at the crime scene? Pg. 83 & 65 The only serious clues were the foot print on the cardboard, and the Kenyon’s missing radio.
6. Who was their primary suspect at the beginning? Why? What would have been the motive? Pg 84 Bobby Rupp was their first suspect because he was the last to see the Clutter’s, the night of their murder. His motive would have been that Mr. Clutter had wanted Nancy to slowly break off their relationship. 7. Who did Perry Smith consider his “real and only friend”?
Pg 124 Willie Jay was Perry’s only friend because he understood him and no one else did. 8. Describe Perry’s recurring dream. Pg 92 In his dreams, he is always in some kind of trouble and a “sort of parrot” ends up saving him just in the knick of time. 9. How did Dick and Perry obtain money to get to Mexico? Pg 97 Dick and Perry got money by writing hot checks for items, then selling the items later when they needed the money. “Persons Unknown” 10. What is revealed about the town of Holcomb? How does the gossip surrounding the crime reflect underlying truths about Holcomb and small town Kansas? Pg. 49 Every little bit of gossip gets around in the town of Holcomb. If one person has an opinion, everyone in the town is going to know about it. They all start to become suspicious of each other, because in the beginning they think the killer could have been from the town. 11. Who is Otto, and where do Dick and Perry meet him? Pg 118 They met him on a fishing trip while in Acapulco. 12. What was Perry’s most prized possession and what happened to it? Pg 124 His most prized possession was his guitar, and somebody stole it from him. 13. How does Capote work Dick and Perry’s backgrounds into the story?
Capote works their backgrounds into the story by having flashbacks to their childhood or previous experiences. 14. Relate several specific details concerning what we know of Perry’s upbringing by this point in the novel. Pg 130 Perry’s parents were split up, his mom was drunk quite often, he didn’t get the full education that he had always wanted, he had to deal with crazy nuns and orphanages, but finally he got to live with his dad (who ended up taking a lot of his frustrations out on Perry) 15. Do you feel sympathy for either Dick or Perry at this point?
I feel sympathy for Perry more than Dick at this point. Perry didn’t have the upbringing that Dick had, so I feel like Dick doesn’t have a reason to act as he does in the book. “The Answer” 16. Who is Floyd Wells? Pg 159 He was the guy that Dick talked to while he was in jail. He worked for the Clutter’s, and he was the one that Dick was asking all of his questions about the Clutter’s to. Dick even told Floyd what he was going to do to the Clutter’s. 17. According to Dick’s father, what was Dick like as a young man? Pg 166 As a young man, Dick was athletic, smart, and all-around pretty normal. 18.
Where did Dick tell his parents he and Perry were going on the night of the murders? Pg 168 Dick told his parents he was going to Kansas City to pick up some money that Perry’s sister owed him. 19. A middle-aged traveling salesman picked up Dick and Perry on his way to Omaha. What were their plans for him? By what “miracle” was he saved? Pg 171 Dick and Perry’s plans had been to kill and rob the guy, but they ended up picking up another guy, instead. 20. How did Harold Nye obtain the address to the rooming house where Perry had stayed? Pg 126 He got the address from a pawn shop ticket found while searching for the radio. 1. Why does the landlady expect Perry to turn up again anytime? Pg 177 She expects him to come back anytime because he asked her to keep it for him until he came back and got it. 22. Describe Perry’s relationship with his sister Barbara. Include her feelings regarding him and his situation as well as his feelings towards her. Pg 180 When he was younger they were close, until Perry left to live with his dad and he started getting in trouble. Barbara is scared of him, and rightly so. She also resents that her father loved him the most. Perry wished that she had been in that house too, so he could have killed her, too. 3. What are Perry’s feelings regarding education and his lack thereof? Pg 185 Perry wishes more than anything that he could have gotten a proper education. He doesn’t like many people that are smarter than him. 24. Because money was becoming a problem by this point, what did Dick want to do that Perry considered “the ultimate crazy man stunt”? Why? What was Dick planning to do there? Pg. 188 The ultimate crazy man stunt was to go back to Kansas City and write more bad checks. They did this because Dick had friends in Kansas City and he was confident that they would succeed. 25.
Concerning the incident at the pool in Florida, as well as an earlier incident, what was Perry’s attitude regarding Dick’s attraction to very young girls? Pg 200 Perry thinks Dick’s attraction to young girls is absolutely disgusting, and he thinks that people need to learn how to sexually control themselves. 26. Where, and on what charges were Dick and Perry actually arrested? Why was it important to Alvin Dewey that everyone, including Dick and Perry, continue to believe that this was the reason for their arrest? Pg 213 They were picked up for parole violation and passing bad checks.
It was important that they thought this was the only reason so they would be able to see their reactions and so that they couldn’t talk to each other to make up a better story. They didn’t want the public to know about it because there was a small chance that they weren’t the right guys. 27. What very important items were in the box that Perry had delivered to himself at the Las Vegas post office. Pg 214 There were two pairs of boots that matched the prints found at the crime scene. 28. What was revealed to both Dick and Perry separately about the scene of the crime? What was each of the men’s reactions?
Pg 224 They revealed to Dick and Perry that there was a witness. Dick turned on Perry because he knew about the witness, and Perry stuck with the story, not knowing that Dick had told someone. 29. Why do you think Capote waited until this point in the novel to reveal the details of the night of the murders? What is the effect? I believe that Capote waited until the end to make the story more suspenseful, and it was more suspenseful. We knew from the beginning who committed the murder, we just didn’t 30. What was the one primary difference between Dick’s version of the murders and Perry’s version?
Pg 246 Dick’s version was basically that he didn’t kill anybody, and his version made him sound innocent. Perry’s version was that Dick killed the two girls. 31. On the evening Dick and Perry were delivered to the Holcomb jail, what was the difference between the predicted response of the townspeople and the actual response? Why? Pg 248 The predicted response was for the townspeople to be violent and rebellious to the prisoners. When the time came, the people of Holcomb were completely silent as the prisoners were walked into the jail. “The Corner” 32. Describe the cell in which Perry was place in the Holcomb “jail. Pg 254 The cell was connected to the kitchen of Mr. and Mrs. Meyer. It had a window overlooking the square, a toilet, stall, cot, chair, table, a shower, and a hanging light bulb. 33. Who was Don Cullivan and what was his relationship with Perry both before and after Perry’s arrest? Pg 261 Don Cullivan was someone that Perry had been in the army with. Perry hadn’t remembered him much, but he was glad he had someone trying to help him out. 34. Perry relates to the two tomcats that prowled the Square every evening. What was the reason Mrs. Meier gave as to their purpose in doing so and why does it “pain him” to watch their maneuvers?
Pg 264 It pains him to watch the cats because it reminds him of himself. He has been going through life just trying to survive like the cats. 35. What event did Paul Helm describe as being “like a second funeral”? Pg 271 The auctioning of the Clutter’s possessions had been like a second funeral. 36. Who was the “mystery man”—the final witness for the prosecution in Dick and Perry’s trial? Pg 281 The mystery man was Floyd Wells. 37. What changes did Perry want to make to his original story? Why? Pg 255 Perry wanted to tell the truth and say that Dick didn’t kill the women because Dick’s parents deserved to know the ruth. 38. What is “The Corner”? Pg. 188 The Corner was referring to the gallows. Overall 39. In what ways is In Cold Blood like a fiction novel? How does Capote report the facts and allow different voices to speak without using a journalistic style? In Cold Blood is like a fiction novel in that he added to it, with small scenes and quotes that weren’t accurate. He lets the journalistic facts mix together with a few made up details from different characters, it seems. 40. How is montage used in the novel? (Look up this term if you need to) What is the effect of this style?
It lets you know what’s happening in two different places at the same time. It tells you what Dick and Perry are doing at a certain time, and what the people of Holcomb are doing at the same time, but it switches off. 41. Why did Capote omit descriptions of the two older clutter sisters, who were not home at the time of the crime? Does the narrative benefit from this exclusion? Capote doesn’t talk about the two older sisters because they weren’t really a part of story being told, they weren’t a necessary part of the story. I feel like they just don’t matter that much, so it doesn’t benefit or take away from the story. 2. Because the Clutter family could not speak for themselves, Capote’s information about them was supplied by neighbors, friends and other people who knew the family. Capote got most of his information about the perpetrators of the crime directly from them. How does this shape their readers’ opinions about the victims and about the criminals? The author makes us feel like we knew the Clutters, and that they were our friends. So it makes us feel like the criminals hurt our own friends, so we know how the people of Holcomb feel about the situation.
He wrote it so that they don’t even need the family to tell the story, we got enough of the story from everyone else. 43. The tone of the book reveals the author’s attitude toward his subject matter. Capote intended In Cold Blood to be both objective and sympathetic. Is this possible? Did he achieve it? This is possible, and I believe he achieved it. I felt sympathetic towards the victims in the beginning, and the criminals in the end and I think that’s how he intended for us to feel. 44. Did Capote take a stand on the death penalty? Why could he not finish the book until after the executions? Does
In Cold Blood make an argument for either side? I don’t know if Capote gave a stand, he gave both sides on the death penalty. I feel like he was leaning more towards the death penalty being wrong, because that’s how he made me feel, and if I felt that way I’m sure others did too. Capote couldn’t finish the book until after the executions because he had to have more of a closure; how the lives of people in Holcomb moved on. 45. Do you think Dick and Perry were sane? Did the psychiatric analysis of them and descriptions of other cold blooded killers surprise you? Scare you? Make you think differently about violent crime or the death penalty?
I think Dick was sane, and Perry was a little bit on the insane side. If other people can feel nothing after killing someone, yes, that does scare me!! Now I do think differently about the death penalty and the fairness of it all. If someone is insane, they can’t help it. Alas, Babylon Questions for Study and Discussion Explain the meaning of the phrase “Alas, Babylon. ” Where did Randy and his brother get it? What does it signify? Pg. 14 “Alas, Babylon was a private, a family phrase. ” The brothers would hear Preacher Henry say this phrase from the Revelation of John, and they used the phrase as an emergency call.
What is Florence Wechek’s impression of Randy at the beginning of Alas, Babylon? Pg. 4 “Randy Bragg a peeping Tom! ” Florence thinks that Randy has been watching her through her window, when in reality he is trying to look at a bird. She also thinks that Randy is a player because she sees girls come and go from his house. How does the description of the election show a new side of Randy’s character? Pg. 8 Randy was so humiliated by the thought of it, he had started drinking bourbon to try to clear away the memories of the election. How does the town’s business and economy change? Things that were important, like cash , became unusable.
So people had to start trading things like coffee, whiskey, gas, and other things that people actually needed. What instances of there of people being in positions of power or public authority who should not be, before and after The Day? How does Randy’s exercise of authority contrast with that of others, from the pilot Pee Wee to Bubba Offenhaus, Edgar Quisenberry, and Porky Logan? Pg. 133 When it comes to who’s in charge after The Day, Randy steps up to the plate and tries to organize everything that is going on. He gets together a group of veterans, and they take charge of the place.
They stop the highway men from doing more damage, end up making laws, and everything else that the others that used to be in charge failed to do. The people that used to be in charge weren’t able to acclimate. Pg. 122-Edgar shot himself because his life revolved around money and the bank, and that no longer mattered. In Chapter 4, Helen points out that her children, and all children in the late 1950’s “have lived under the shadow of war-atomic war. For them the abnormal had become normal. ” Do children today live under a comparable shadow or shadows? If so, what are the possible consequences for them?
I don’t think children live under a shadow; I feel like there’s not a whole lot to be afraid of here. But then again, there’s a lot I don’t know about the world and what’s going on in it. If there is a shadow.. It would be the coming of a depression or global warming. The consequences are that we won’t be prepared for whatever is going to come our way. What are the consequences- for Randy himself, for his family and friends, and for all of Fort Repose-of Randy’s decision in Chapter 5, that “he would have to play by the old rules”? In what ways do Randy and others subsequently act in accordance with or in opposition to “the old rules”?
Randy and the others have to play by the old rules by how they survive. They have to learn how to live like the ancient Egyptians did back in the day. ? What is the sequence of the escalating breakdown of “normal” order, institutions, and public services? How do people react to the sudden absence of services and procedures that they-we-take for granted? Would reactions today be different or similar? What do you think is the most serious loss? First the banks start closing, then the stores run out of supplies, then gas starts to run out, then food starts to run out, then all the other necessities start running out.
But as they all run out, different people think of different solutions to make up for what was lost. Like the boat instead of the car, the salted meat instead of refrigerated meat, the artisan water instead of regular water, orange juice and citrus instead of milk, guns instead of wallets, stuff like that. Some people react well and go along with the new changes, trying to adapt; other people do not adapt well at all, and end up dying. I think if the situation happened today it would be similar, if not worse. Most of us take for granted the little things in life, like coffee and clean water.
After reading the book, it seems like the most serious loss would be lack of salt. In Chapter 5, Frank writes of bank president Edgar Quisenberry that “He had forgotten the implacable law of scarcity. ” How would you define/describe that law? How does it come into play for the people of Fort Repose, and what effects does it have? The implacable law of scarcity is when someone can never everything he wants, and never have it his way. I guess when everyone loses it all, there isn’t any more classes. No more first class and third class; everyone’s in the same boat: poor. It comes into play in Fort Repose with Mr.
McGovern, mostly. He starts working with someone who used to work for him. The African American children go to school and play with the white children. In some ways, there’s more unity. In other situations, people turn on each other, fighting for their own survival. Is Helen’s “inventory of necessities,” in Chapter 6, realistic and appropriate? What would be included in your inventory of necessities in the case of a similar catastrophe? Why? Her list of necessities probably seemed somewhat appropriate at the time, but looking ahead, they should have tried to get the absolute necessities.
After reading this book my list of necessities would have been: gas, shoes, coffee, salt, sweets, meat, candles, radio, batteries, medical stuff, and ammunition. I’m probably missing some, but I wouldn’t have been able to come up with a good list if I hadn’t read this book. In Chapter 6, Dan mentions historian Arnold Toynbee in a conversation with Randy. Discuss the significance of this passage in terms of the theme of the novel? Pg. 133 “His theory of challenge and response applies not only to nations, but to individuals.
Some nations and some people melt in the heat of crisis and come apart like fat in the pan. Others meet the challenge and harden. ” “They created and lived in an environment of paper profits, and when paper returned to paper, they had to kill themselves, not realizing that their environment was unnatural and artificial. ” Those two quotes are the main theme of the book. The book showed us how we live, and not to take everything we have for granted. As fast as we get it, it can all be taken away. It showed us that we should be more grateful for the little things in life.. Or that’s what it showed me.
What factors of character and circumstance justify Randy’s assuming responsibility for and authority over Fort Repose? Is his thought in Chapter 7-”When you had the responsibility you also had the right to command”-explanation enough? I think that Randy taking charge because he had the responsibility was enough of an explanation. Randy was doing what he thought would benefit the community the most, and it did indeed do so. To what extent does “survival of the fittest” apply in Fort Repose after The Day? What do Randy and the others understand that phrase to mean? What do you understand it to mean?
Only the fit and adept could survive. If you couldn’t adapt to change, you weren’t going to live. Randy thought of it when Florence’s cat ate her bird. The cat didn’t have anything else to eat, so it had to do what it had to do. I wouldn’t want to eat an armadillo, but if there was nothing else to eat, I’d be eating that armadillo! How did the lives of some of the characters improve after The Day? The lives of the Henry’s improved because they were looked at as equals to everyone else. The lives of the poor people changed for the better because they became equal as everyone else, also.
After The Day, Alice finally found her meaning of life. She was able to be someone important as a librarian, everyone started coming to her. What change in black and white relationships evolved after The Day? Black and white relationships became more equal, as discussed previously. How might the burial of Porky Logan be considered the turning point of the novel? The burial of Porky Logan could be a turning point of the book because after he (Randy’s rival) dies, Randy takes up the position of authority that Porky had had and leads the people in a very good and effective way.
Does it matter who won this war? It doesn’t really matter who won the war with the amount of damage done, people were still focusing on what really mattered: survival. Why do you think Frank selected a phrase from The Revelation of John as the title of his book? To what extent do you think he intended the references to Babylon in chapters 17 and 18 of The Revelation to apply to the United States of the 1950’s? To what extent might they apply to the United States of today?
Frank must have used the phrase form The Revelation of John to show that what he’s writing has to do with some of his Christian beliefs. How is the novel critical of American wealth? The novel is critical of American wealth, in that it shows us we don’t really need all that we have. We don’t need cash to survive, what we really need is food, water, shelter .. etc. What do you know now that you didn’t know before you read this book? I know now what kinds of things to do in survival situations that I wouldn’t have known. Things like putting salt on meat to preserve it, eating armadillos .. etc.