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In Cold Blood: Nature Vs Nurture

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In Cold Blood: Nature vs Nurture

Nature and nurture are two reasonable explanations to why we are the people we are today. Nature refers to the things that we are born with because of heredity, and nurture refers to the characteristics shaped by the environment in which we live. The general argument made by Truman Capote in his work In Cold Blood is that even though nature (genetic code) plays a major role in determining who someone is, criminality is born by nurture (environment). More specifically, Capote argues that Perry turned to a life of crime because of his terrible childhood and the bad situations he faced while growing up.

"Because he hates me, said Perry, whose voice was both gentle and prim - a voice that, though soft, manufactured each word exactly, ejected it like a smoke ring issuing from a parson's mouth. So does your mother. I could see - the ineffable way they looked at me" (Capote 23). In this passage, Capote describes Perry's gentleness, education, and sophistication. By doing this, Capote is also suggesting that these characteristics would have grown if Perry had been nurtured well as a child. Also, by demonstrating Perry's understanding of people (Dick's parents) hating him, Capote makes us wonder; Why is Perry so used to be hated by others?

"Why? Soldiers don't lose much sleep. They murder, and get medals for doing it. The good people from Kansas want to murder me - and some hangman will be glad to get the work... Just remember: I only knew the Clutters maybe an hour. If I'd really known them, I guess I'd felt different. I don't think I could live with myself" (Capote 291). As the novel ends, Capote seems to project his own opinion that Perry was more innocent than Dick by making Perry much more sympathetic towards the audience than Dick. It is interesting to note, however, that it was Perry who did the killings, even though Dick is the one who brags about violent acts more, and Perry makes them up to impress Dick. Perhaps this is Capote's way of indicating he is more in favor of criminality being born by nurture, rather than nature.

It is obvious that Truman Capote believed that Perry became a criminal mostly because of his bad nurture, not because of his nature. However, Capote also presents the opposite side of the argument by describing Dick. "Dick Hickock! Don't talk to me about Dick Hickock! If ever I met the devil! Steal? Steal the weights off a dead man's eyes! His mother, though, Eunice, she's a fine woman. Heart big as a barn. His daddy, too. Both of them plain, honest people. Dick would've gone to jail more times than you can count, except nobody around here wanted to prosecute. Out of respect for his folks" (Capote 168). There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with Dick's environment



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