The Role Of Financial Stability In The

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The Role Of Financial Stability In The Novel In Cold Blood Essay, Research Paper Herb Clutter and his family possess it. Dick and Perry want it. It is often associated with the ideal existence. What is “it” exactly? “It” refers to financial stability. This is the state of not having to fret about paying the bills or providing for one’s family and of not having to worry if one will eat on a given day. The concept of financial stability is central in the novel written by Truman Capote and inspired by real events entitled In Cold Blood. This issue is the backbone of the novel and is the chief motive for the murders committed in the story. Additionally, financial stability is an important component in the typical view of the “American dream.” It is fair to say that

the Clutters embody this concept, which involves a pattern of social and personal virtue that is accompanied by financial stability. The opposite seems true for those characters of Dick and Perry who fail to exhibit virtuous behaviors and therefore, never attain financial stability. These characters embody the “American nightmare.” Capote argues in his story that tragedy is not confined to the latter category and life is indeed a fragile thing. It may seem risky to say that a person who has attained financial stability has done so by exhibiting virtue. While in the real world this statement might not hold true, it is supported within the context of Capote’s story. He introduces the Clutters as a financially stable family and as the embodiment of the “American dream.” He

illustrates the virtues of Herb Clutter by stating “his name was everywhere respectfully recognized” (6) and “he was known for his equanimity, his charitableness, and the fact that he paid good wages” (10). Capote, when speaking of what Herb wanted to obtain in the world, says he “had in large measure obtained it” (6). Herb was a successful father, husband, businessman, and politician according to Capote’s account. The success of his farmland was a direct result of his hard work (11-12). In addition, Herb was very prudent with his money. He never carried cash (46) and he was excellent at storing his assets (11). Herb Clutter obtained financial stability for his family through virtuous means. Thus his family, with respect to financial stability, embodied the

“American dream.” Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, however, were not known for their virtue and respectability. While it is true today and was true at the time of the story that many profit from dishonesty, ultimately Dick and Perry were destroyed by it. It is fact that both Dick and Perry had served prison sentences for robbery in the past. Capote further illustrates the vices of Dick’s personality when he uses the statement, “I promise you, honey, we’ll blast hair all over them walls” (22) to portray Dick as a potential murderer. Capote also shows that Dick is a liar by revealing that he lied to his father about where he was going the night of the murders (23). It is fairly obvious that Capote is portraying Dick as a person who doesn’t often exhibit virtue in his

actions. Capote presents a similar idea about Perry when he reveals Perry’s confession of murdering all four Clutter’s present at the house (255). Dick and Perry never attain financial stability and are, within Capote’s story, the embodiment of the “American nightmare.” It is possible that Capote is subtly equating this with their lack of virtue. Throughout the story Dick and Perry tried to come up with schemes to make money. Dick goes on a bad check writing spree and he promises to marry Maria “who was the widow of a ‘very prominent Mexican banker’” (118) in order to get money. In fact, the incident at the River Valley Ranch was meant to be a robbery and not a murder. Dick and Perry never seriously try to find honest ways to make money, rather they spend all