5 Life Lessons from Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood

Truman Capote, one of the people behind the New Journalism School. Truman Capote, one of the people behind the New Journalism School. Courtesy

In 2015, Truman Capote’s masterpiece, In Cold Blood marked its golden Jubilee since it was published by Random House.  

Even today, the true-crime non-fiction novel still exudes a literary freshness, particularly the life lessons and philosophies that transcends the length and breadth of the text. Capote’s writing is a stark reminder of the absurdity of life and its cruel brevity; family love and many more in this true story, and here we pick five of the best.

  1. Upright people also die savage deaths:

Life’s irony is that it doesn’t matter how good-natured and people-loving you are within your community. In Holcomb, Kansas, the Clutter family was a model that everyone admired simply because of their industry, warm-heartedness, and humility despite their immense wealth – they were large-scale wheat farmers. But that did not stop their vicious murder on the early morning of November 15, 1959. The thieving murderers first slit Herbert William Clutter’s throat before shooting him dead. They also murdered his son Kenyon (14 years); daughter, Nancy (15 years), and wife, Bonnie. What for? Less than fifty dollars, a portable radio, and binoculars. Neighbors later told the author “that family represented everything people hereabouts really value and respect, and that such a thing (murder) could happen to them – well it’s like being told there is no God. It makes life seem pointless.”

  1. Family is a very important thing:

The family is a significant unit of shaping an individual. Capote painstakingly exploits its relevance as a strand that either leads a person to prosperity or dooms him/her to untold grief and ultimately, ruin. The lead families in the narrative include: the “perfect” Clutter family, the broken Tex Johnson family (Perry Smith – one of the murderers’ folk – later captured, tried and hanged!), the modest Hickock family – Richard “Dick” Hickock’s relations (also one of the convicted murderers, was only 28 years when he committed the crime. Hanged!). Witnesses described the Clutter’s slain children as “exceptional, unassuming kids you wouldn’t have known they were rich or lived in such a big house.”  

  1. Guilt can be a heavy load to carry:

We can deceive friends, relatives, and strangers; con them thinking we are smarter, but karma is unforgiving, too. Inevitably, reality and most importantly – the long arm of the law catches up with us. After Perry and Dick had murdered the Clutter family and left them in cold blood, they mistakenly assumed they would easily expunge their guilty emotions through partying and travel in Mexico. It wasn’t to be. Dick was also notorious for writing bad cheques; both had violated their parole after having served jail terms. Perry, the most introspective and conscious of the pair, constantly remarks to his accomplice, “there’s got to be something wrong with somebody who’d do a thing like that” (bind, gag, slit the throats of his victims, and later shoot them).  The overwhelming weight of guilt will traumatize them till they were captured six weeks later.

  1. Do your hustle with absolute devotion

After the discovery of the murder of the Clutter family, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation assigned a retinue of agents to investigate the case and apprehend the murderers. The lead agent, Al Dewey “was professionally qualified to cope with even as intricate an affair, as the apparently motiveless, all but clueless Clutter murders.”. Summarily, Dewey and his partners were going to start from scratch and chase all manner of clues, hints; move from one state to another looking for possible suspects; conceptualize different theories to piece together a crime that “stimulated fires of mistrust in the glare of which many old neighbors viewed each other strangely, and as strangers”. What follows is a relentless manhunt and questioning of Holcomb residents, a task that takes a heavy toll of Dewey’s young family, but he doesn’t give up. Until victory day.

  1. The law remains an ass:

Even after Perry’s and Dick’s confession of slaying the Clutters, the Kansas State still accorded them a fair hearing through legal representation (paid for by the state) as mandated by law. And despite the jury’s verdict that found the defendants “guilty of murder in the first degree” and sentenced them to hang, the pair doggedly appealed their sentence, evading execution – what inmates call The Corner – a record three times until the night of April 14, 1965 when they finally paid for their crimes. In a nutshell, the law never discriminates: innocent until proven guilty dictum will always apply.


Capote’s In Cold Blood is a bold and successful experiment of bringing together journalism and literature. The rich reportage (the author revealed that he wrote 8,000 pages of notes before the writing project) interwoven with literary sophistication through techniques such as flashbacks, local dialect, (internal) dialogue, foreshadowing, foregrounding (use of the characters’ letters and diaries), and the complex plot in totality qualifies the book as a masterpiece. For those with a strong inclination in journalism, but still want to pen that great novel, this is text is the real deal. It’s available online for free.


The writer is trained high school teacher and a journalist. He is a former editorial intern with The Standard.


  • Comment Link timberland femmes wheat glancy tall lace timberland femmes wheat glancy tall lace 20 February 2019

    mens designer trainers ballyadidas originals zx 850 velcro trainers grey pinkadidas white boots messi pibe de barr10 10.1 fgadidas designer shoes mens adidas nova lightweight running shoes size 7bnib
    timberland femmes wheat glancy tall lace

  • Comment Link Grady Grady 20 February 2019

    I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I am not sure
    whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed
    about my difficulty. You're amazing! Thanks!

  • Comment Link JamesFer JamesFer 20 February 2019

    Notes: Harbaugh said left tackle Eugene Monroe (ankle) and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (foot) should return to practice this week after missing the Pittsburgh game. ... Baltimore's 10-5 road record is tied with Carolina for best percentage (.667) since the merger.
    "We have so much more time," Lewan said. "We can either sit here and whine about it and cry about it and hear all the criticism, or we can get back to work and we've got to win a game. And when we win one, we've got to keep going off that."
    Backup fullback Richie Brockel (shoulder) and offensive tackle Nate Chandler (knee) are also listed as out.
    A premium subscription to TuneIn also features thousands of audiobooks and some ad-free music.
    FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) 鈥?The New York Jets have waived guard Oday Aboushi a day after his one-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy ended.
    "This is going to be the first and last day that I answer questions about my contract," Wilkerson said.

  • Comment Link galaxynote8 淇濊銉曘偅銉儬 浠樸亶 galaxy note8 scv37 銈便兗銈?銈儛銉?sc 01k sc01k 銈广優銉涖偙銉笺偣 scv39 scv38 galaxynote8 淇濊銉曘偅銉儬 浠樸亶 galaxy note8 scv37 銈便兗銈?銈儛銉?sc 01k sc01k 銈广優銉涖偙銉笺偣 scv39 scv38 20 February 2019

    銈般儍銉?銈兗銈便兗銈?銉儑銈c兗銈?gucci 410084 ku2in 8693 gg blooms supreme b.eb multinike wmns air max zero 璧?銉儍銉?24cm 銉娿偆銈?銈︺偅銉°兂銈?銈ㄣ偄銉炪儍銈偣 銈笺儹 857661 800riffue android one s3銈便兗銈?鎵嬪赋鍨?銇娿仐銈冦倢 銈枫儯銉笺儣 銈兂銉夈儹銈ゃ儔銉兂 s3 銈儛銉?闈?/a>銈儵銉笺偗銈?銉掋兗銉?銈枫儱銉笺偤 銉儑銈c兗銈?deloria liv black leather 閫氳博
    galaxynote8 淇濊銉曘偅銉儬 浠樸亶 galaxy note8 scv37 銈便兗銈?銈儛銉?sc 01k sc01k 銈广優銉涖偙銉笺偣 scv39 scv38 http://www.tribexiq.com/gazelle/galaxynote8-%e4%bf%9d%e8%ad%b7%e3%83%95%e3%82%a3%e3%83%ab%e3%83%a0-%e4%bb%98%e3%81%8d-galaxy-note8-scv37-%e3%82%b1%e3%83%bc%e3%82%b9-%e3%82%ab%e3%83%90%e3%83%bc-sc-01k-sc01k-%e3%82%b9%e3%83%9e%e3%83%9b%e3%82%b1%e3%83%bc%e3%82%b9-scv39-scv38

  • Comment Link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rw1n7L3_KZE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rw1n7L3_KZE 20 February 2019

    I really appreciate this post. I’ve been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You've made my day! Thank you again

  • Comment Link nike flight line 15 basketball nike flight line 15 basketball 20 February 2019

    2017children backpack kindergarten backpack boy cute minecraft cartoon backpack hot game backpack school bags for boyswomens saucony guide iso 10 black denim copper pace athleticnike hypervenom phantom elite iii fg 18 df nike skin soccer shoeswhat military boots to buy top 5 mod approved brown combat boots
    nike flight line 15 basketball

  • Comment Link adidas ozweego 2 x raf simons vs youtube adidas ozweego 2 x raf simons vs youtube 20 February 2019

    adidas shoes superstar hollow graphic size 4 usa poshmarkheres every jordan sneaker dropping this holiday seasonadidas superstar womens discount womens adidas pale pink superstar trainersadidas boys nemeziz messi 17.3 soccer cleats
    adidas ozweego 2 x raf simons vs youtube

  • Comment Link skechers sk23028 relaxed fit breathe easy fortune knit natural skechers sk23028 relaxed fit breathe easy fortune knit natural 20 February 2019

    adidas ace 17.1 primeknit fg uk 7 us 7 5 football boots soccer cleats ebay2013 jeep wrangler reviews images and specs vehiclesget quotations canvas women shoes breathable size 35 40 women flats lazy shoes woman espadrilles round toeshoes blue black green womens supra tk society cheap supra shoes supra shoes cheap stable quality
    skechers sk23028 relaxed fit breathe easy fortune knit natural

  • Comment Link classic womens snow boots fashion winter warm girl short boots classic womens snow boots fashion winter warm girl short boots 20 February 2019

    where to buy a quick glimpse of all these upcoming colorways appearing on the adidas ultraredbat womens camouflage orange leggingsspecial prices on adidas adilette terrycloth slide sandaladidas nmd all white 17 release
    classic womens snow boots fashion winter warm girl short boots

  • Comment Link adidas shoes cloudfoam lite racer slip on size 6 12 poshmark adidas shoes cloudfoam lite racer slip on size 6 12 poshmark 20 February 2019

    saucony mens kinvara 8 key power sports indonesiapuma suede platform trace womens tessutisaucony mens lightweight running shoes grid cohesion 11champion ipo jock slide sandals sandals
    adidas shoes cloudfoam lite racer slip on size 6 12 poshmark

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

Editors Picks