In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

Location: Mr. Hall's Room

Ian Grover
Michael Clarke
Quinn Hathcock
Parker Langmaid
Phoebe Walsh
Ricki Pierce
Maddy Wood
Adam Wriggins
Max Grimm
Alan Hall
Adam Smith

Agenda Suggestions

1. Introduction: Name, grade, general opinion of book (ex. "I liked it").

2. Whip: This can be done at any point or multiple times in the discussion. Go around the circle and each person talks for less than a minute. Other participants listen and can respond after the whip has made a full circle.
1. Whip questions for the beginning of the discussion:
•How did you like the book?
•How did you respond to a certain character?
• What did you care most about in the book?
•Describe your leveling of understanding

3. Run though characters
1. As a whole group, make a master list of all significant characters

2. In whip style, go around the group and each person says one thing about the character
3. Go through the process with other important characters.

4. Three A's
1. What part(s) of the text affect you? In pairs find passages that impact you
2. What do you Agree with in the passages
3. What do you Argue with in the text.

5. Channel the author
1. Divide the group into two.
2. Each mini group composes a question directed to the author.
3. One mini group goes first and asks the other group their question. The other group gets a minute to confer and then a minute to respond to the question in the voice of the author.
4. The whole group can openly discuss the response and ideas it generates.
5. Repeat the steps with the other mini group's question.

6. Questions
1. Which character did you like the most or find the most interesting?
2. What would you ask the author about this book?
3. Did you like the ending of this book?

7. Did you like the book
1. yes or no

Ian G: Rewrite a Scene

Bonnie quickly apologized for Nancy having to leave her cherry pie baker-in-training stranded at the Clutter household. Bonnie worried that she could possibly tarnish her daughters perfect reputation if she uttered the wrong words. An awkward silence filled the room as Bonnie wondered what to say next. Bonnie had deathly been afraid of making a mistake, and she never wanted to say anything wrong. Bonnie, ever since having Kenyon, had never wanted to be judged for what she did day in and day out. Thus, staying in her room was the easiest option. Jolene stared at the fabled Mrs. Clutter in contemplation. She knew the rumors about her just as well as anybody did, a beautiful woman gone awry. And with such a great family: Kenyon, the carpenter, Herb, the farmer, and Nancy the baker. Bonnie was just the blemish of the Clutter family. These kinds thoughts toiled around in her mind daily. To relieve the tension, Bonnie walked over to the coffee pot and poured herself a cup. She was always drinking coffee. Perhaps this was why she was always so anxious. Bonnie soon found herself apologizing again. “Forgive me, dear. I’m sure you’ll never know what it is to be tired. I’m sure you’ll always be happy.” Jolene fidgeted. As Bonnie’s mind whirred, her attention was continuously brought to her miniature collection. It was a safe idea that she always went back to in times of stress. Then a lightbulb went off. “Do you like miniature things? Small things?” she asked Jolene. Without waiting for a response Bonnie led Jolene into the dining room. It was a gamble to show Jolene the miniature collection, but she had exhausted all other options. Besides, Jolene’s mother didn’t seem to be coming anytime soon. Bonnie then started to ramble about her miniatures like a child at a show and tell. It was like all the problems she had been facing had vanished. As Jolene left, clutching the californian paper fan that Bonnie had gifted her, Bonnie sighed. She had never felt so good in years. With her spinal therapy coming soon, the farm growing, Nancy’s incredible progress as a woman, and Kenyon’s inevitable birth of his construction career, it seemed that things were looking up. The Clutter family seemed to be heading places.

Parker L: Alternate Ending

Hickock lay in his shadowy cell contemplating his next move. In the utter silence of night he had spent the last couple weeks working out this escape in vivid detail. For those who were in his predicament didn’t stand much of a chance in the scheme of things. Although there was no such thing as life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, in Kansas there was still an even worse and more likely sentence that could occur. On top of this, like his accomplice, Perry Smith, he had become aware that those native to Holcomb were now restless. Like the majority of people who had come to know of what he and Perry had done, they wished only to string the both of them up on the nearest tree. It was for this reason that he had thought it best to break out while he still could. Hold his completed shiv, and hope and pray that he could keep his new weapon concealed before it could put to use.
Upon his arrival in the small Holcomb jail, “shake downs” had become a common occurrence taking place at least every one or two days. So for Dick this made hiding his new weapon a true challenge. The shiv itself was nothing to be proud of, in all it was no longer than a few inches. Consisting of a piece of wood and a wire that was once part of a toilet brush that he had stumbled upon on one of the various jobs that had been forced upon him. With this small but unsuspected weapon all he would have to do is wait, and so he did.
Within a couple of days Dick’s chance soon presented itself; it was the day of his and Perry’s trial and he was expecting a guard to be coming to fetch him at any moment. Dick lay in this bed with his clothes, shiv in hand, and a few possessions packed ready to go on a moments notice. Seconds seemed to pass like hours, each one ticking away at what felt like a slowed pace until there was rattle as the bars to his cell slid open. Dick froze, his face still pointed into his pillow as though he were asleep. The guard casually made his way across the cell toward Dick’s bed. Dick didn’t budge until he felt the man’s body looming over him then he made his move.
The poor guard never stood a chance. Dick whipped his hand from under the the jail’s thin cotton sheet and aimed his razor sharp shiv with precision. Throwing his hand down he stabbed the shiv into the guard’s neck and slid his hand over his open mouth as he crumpled. It was a rather feeble struggle. Then the man lay stiff and his expression changed to a lifeless form. Throwing the shiv to the floor Dick picked up this things and left. Flying through his cell Dick ran into the hall and out the door not even stopping to think about his fellow accomplice locked up on the other side of the jail house.
Blowing by everyone in his path, Dick kept running until it was apparent no one was after him. Dick glanced behind him and noticed a small boy gazing at him. That would be that last person to see him for the next thirty years until he showed up in an ambulance in Miami, Florida after suffering from a severe heart attack. After his escape Dick heard little to nothing about his trial until he read the Sunday paper days later. It stated that a man by the name of Perry Smith was publicly hung by protesters outside his jail cell in Holcomb, Kansas after his accomplice had escaped the night before.
Dick balled up the news paper and threw it off to his right in a nearby ditch, adjusted his pants and looked at this watch; it was 12:00 on November 15, 1960. One whole year had passed since the night when he and Perry Smith ended the lives of four members of the Clutter family and for what, not more than forty or fifty dollars. Even after all that time what did it matter? He never knew them and they never knew him. He was a thief and thats all he would ever be. Dick Hickock was a thief with no sense of right or wrong. For all Dick was concerned the world revolved around him and without him the world was nothing.

Adam Wriggins: Dialogue

Nick: Hey bro, how about that party last night?
Stephen: I couldn’t go, I had to read all 384 pages of In Cold Blood last night.
Nick: Bummer dude, it was awesome, just like that book.
Stephen: You didn’t actually like it, did you?
Nick: Are you kidding? It’s my favorite book! Truman Capote is a genius.
Stephen: Yeah, when it comes to boring people to death.
Nick: I love how he is constantly switching perspectives between the murderers and the Clutter family. Also, his character development is great! I felt like I knew the characters inside and out!
Stephen: Yeah it only took Capote the first 100 pages. Look Nick, the only reason I chose to read this book was because it looked like a mystery... turns out you can find out who kills who on the back cover - there’s no suspense.
Nick: Who needs suspense when you are emotionally attached to the characters? I nearly cried when Bobby Rupp made his post-murder visits to the Clutter property.
Stephen: The only real emotion I felt besides boredom was frustration. A “perfect” family gets gruesomely murdered by two ex-convicts with a motive of some $10,000 that didn’t even exist!
Nick: Oh well, I’m gonna hit the showers, see you later.
Stephen: Sounds good, see ya.

Quinn Hathcock: Rewrite a Scene

Two strange voices woke me. I sat up and listened. I heard a male voice. “Now, sir, all we want you to do is show us where you keep that safe,” the man said.
“What safe?” It was my father. Oh god who are these people? I thought. They again asked where the safe was and again my father said there was none. They wouldn’t believe him. Now I was getting even more worried because as far as I knew we didn’t have a safe. I got out of bed and walked as quietly as possible to the top of the staircase. I listened.
“Don’t lie to me, you son of a bitch! I know goddam well you got a safe!” My dad responded to the same man that had been talking beforehand saying sorry, but there just was no safe. “Show us where that safe is or you’re going to be a good bit sorrier.” The man said threateningly. Then I heard one of them walking around and something snap. The man asked my dad if there were any other telephones, and he replies yes, there is one in the kitchen. I heard someone walking towards me. I didn’t know what to do! The stairs end at the kitchen so the choice of staying or leaving was difficult. I started to walk but decided not to due to the loud and rickety floorboards of the house. The man stopped at the bottom of the stairs, and I decided to go. I dashed as quietly as I could to my room. What if the man saw me? I climbed back in bed and pretended I was sleeping. Then I decided that if these were thieves I would hide my most valuable possession, my gold watch. I quickly put it in my shoe and climbed back in bed.
Minutes later I heard multiple people coming up the stairs. I heard them go into a room, possibly my mother’s? I didn’t hear anything for a few minutes. They then went into my brother’s room. I decided to go out there before they came in. I put on my clothes and slippers and headed out. “Is this some kind of joke?” I asked. They responded by shoving me the bathroom.
Minutes passed of footsteps and conversations, but I couldn’t make out any of it. One of the men came in and tied me to the bed. I didn’t resist considering he had a knife. Just moments passed and the taller man came in. He untied me and sat next to me on the bed. Strange. I thought. I decided it would be best to make conversation with him and get him on my good side. “Why do you rob people?” I asked. He responded by saying that he was an orphan as a kid and nobody loved him He also said that his only family was his sister who lived with men without ever marrying them. I couldn’t decide whether to believe him or not. It sounded like a lie, but how would I know what it’s like to be an orphan and grow up in a tough childhood.
The door opened. It was the other man. Short with both Indian and Irish features. A weird combination. I thought. He told the man sitting next to me to go look for the safe. The taller man left, and I could here him go down the stairs. The shorter man tied my feet together and my hands behind my back. He pulled up the covers so only my head was showing. Now this man sat down in my chair and started talking to me. Asking me questions like if I have a boyfriend and what my interests in school are. He seemed nice enough so I tried to talk casually and friendly. I told him all about my interests and how I was going to go to college. He then asked me about Dick. Dick, I presumed was the other man who had talked to me. I told him that I had asked Dick why he robbed people and he responded by saying that he was an orphan and so on. He told me all of that was a lie, which is what I had thought.
Dick came back a few minutes later. The shorter man asked him if he had found the safe, which he obviously hadn’t. He said he had come across another purse in the kitchen which had seven dollars. The two men then left. Are they gone? Are they leaving?
I laid still. I couldn’t hear anything. I couldn’t tell if they had left the house or not. Five minutes past and I heard my father screaming in agony. Oh god! What have they done? I tried to get up but couldn’t. Just moments later I heard a large bang. It sounded like a gun. Oh god have they killed him? I thought. I couldn’t do anything, however, because of the ropes. Moments of silence passed. All I could here was the sound of my heartbeat. BOOM. What’s happening? I heard footsteps coming up the stairs. The door opened. The two men appeared with a gun. A bright light shines into my eyes. “Oh, no! Oh please. No! No! No! No! Don’t! Oh, please don’t! Please!” A blinding light. And then darkness.

MGG: Songs
“Runnin’ With the Devil” by Van Halen
- I chose this song to portray the relationship between Perry and Dick. In one sense, this song works because both men are running from the crime they have just committed. This works better, however, in Perry’s case. This is because Perry was nice to the Clutters (before he killed them). Perry is ‘runnin with the devil’, the devil being Dick, the much more evil of the two men.
“Paranoid” by Black Sabbath
- Sabbath’s classic provides a perfect glimpse into Smith’s mind. The song asks, “Can you help me occupy my brain?” and also asks for someone to help him find the things that make true happiness. Smith battles demons from his childhood which make people question his state of mind: “People think I’m insane because I am frowning all the time.” Toward the end of the story it is revealed that Perry is severely deranged.
“Sympathy For The Devil” by The Rolling Stones
- Although this may or may not have been the goal of Capote, I felt sympathy for Perry Smith once I got into the story. Reasons for this include, but are not limited to, his poor relationship with his family, low economic status, and friendship with Dick. I feel like Dick convinces Perry to commit the crime, this is why I feel sympathy for the murderer: "I wasn't kidding him. I didn't want to harm the man. I thought he was a very nice gentleman. Soft-spoken. I thought so right up to the moment I cut his throat.” This shows that Perry liked the Clutters, specifically Herb.
“Brain Damage” by Eminem
- This song by Eminem dives deep into drug usage and being abused as a child. Not only does Eminem get abused by his mother, he also gets abused by kids/teachers at school. This is similar to Smith’s experiences with the nuns in the orphanage. Eminem’s hatred for his mother reminds me of how much Perry Smith dislikes his mother. The only difference is that Perry gets drawn to his father, while Eminem doesn’t know who his father is. Both have to deal with parental separation and a lack of happiness in their adolescence.
“Man In The Box” by Alice in Chains
- This song is from the standpoint of one who is trapped inside a “box” and isn’t able to escape. The box he is in fits well with the jail cells Perry and Dick are in. A line that gets repeated in the song is “Won’t you come and save me?” I see this as Perry asking for help from his golden bird. The religious undertones toward the end, which get slightly downplayed, are also mentioned in the chorus of “Man in the Box”. The speaker in this song is experiencing overwhelming heartache and pain, and this reminds me of someone on death row about to be killed. This culminates with the speaker asking to have his eyes sewn shut, a feeling one must have when he/she knows death is close.

Two men, not so sane
One vision, all too unique
Cold, to say the least

who would have thought?
a family quite so pure, so present
a fatalistic tragedy quite so numbing
premeditated pleasure, or was it pain?
who would have thought?
two men, two hearts, two distant mindsets
One Motive.
Muted hues fade to gray
the air is parched by a foreign silence
the daisies, wilted by the burden of the unknown
collapse alongside the ease of the yesterday.
A boy, frozen with horrific uncertainty
as if his conscience had melted beneath the ground he no longer sees.
Only curiosity - stinging curiosity - is left to drift
solemnly throughout the winds of Holcomb.
Endless roads of absent footsteps
give the town a dreamlike edge;
an endless nightmare never to be forgotten.
Darkness leaks through every hint of what used to be,
flushing through the valleys of normalcy,
tearing down the balconies of hope.
November 15, 1959 was just another average day

erupted by an ill-fated tragedy.

To dig deep into a brain,
latch onto its subtleties ,
comprehend its grueling motives,
takes time.
With broad shoulders, defined
legs all too short
he stood with a peculiar innocence,
a hint of fear, a quiet tremble,
as if his thoughts were a treck away.
The other, all too confident
all too seemingly sane,
had married himself to a clear-cut vision:
sharp as daggers, pragmatic as death.
I don’t know why I am here
Why do I crave? Why do I hide? Why do I seek?
From where does this cold-blooded urgency fuel?
I find the way in through a keyhole unlocked
but it is the way out
that is farther than my burdened, restless eyes will ever see...

Mike Clarke
A: Alternate Ending

But susan knew no explanation, nor did her mother, who said, “If there was some change of plan, why, I’m sure they would have telephoned. Susan, why don’t you call the house? They could be asleep-I suppose.”
“So I did,” said Susan, in a statement made at a later date. “I called the house and let the phone ring-at least, I had the impres-sion it was ringing-oh, a minute or more. Nobody answered, so Mr. Ewalt, suggested that we go to the house and try to ‘wake them up.’ But when we got there- I didn’t want to do it. Go inside the house. I was frightened, and I don’t know why, because it never occurred to me-well, something like that just doesn't. So I proceed to walk to the front door I knocked waited a few minutes then knocked agin. No answer. so I walked back to the car and we left