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Truman Capote 1924-1984


									         Truman Capote
 Born  “Truman Persons” in New
  Orleans, Louisiana
 Felt psychologically
  abandoned after his parents
  divorced, leaving him to be
  raised by aunts and uncles in
 Became best friends with the
  child next door—Harper Lee,
  who became famous for To Kill
  a Mockingbird.
 In To Kill a Mockingbird, the
  character “Dill” supposedly
  mirrors the young Truman, who
  was waifishly thin with white-
  blond hair, and small for his
 Today, some literary scholars
  believe that Truman Capote
  “ghost-wrote,” or at least
  heavily edited, To Kill a
   Truman’s parents seldom visited him,
    except when his mother wanted to show
    off a new boyfriend.

   During her visits, it became clear that his
    mother was an alcoholic. Through her
    negligent behavior, she abused Truman.

   When his mother remarried, her new
    husband adopted Truman, giving him his
    last name: Capote.

   Truman’s mother and step-father took
    him to live with them in New York.
    Irritated by his frailness and feminine
    voice, they enrolled him in a military
    school “to make him more masculine.”

   After being sexually assaulted there, his
    parents moved him to a private high
    school, where he did well in English
    classes, but poorly in most other
 After high school, he worked in
  a menial job for a magazine
  publisher, but started writing on
  the side.
 He soon published “Miriam,”
  the short story that made him
 Life magazine featured him in
  a photo-shoot about “up and
  coming” young writers. His
  unusual pose and facial
  expression in the photo caused
  a sensation and his fame grew.
   He then published many short
    stories for magazines, but became
    most famous for his novels:
   Other Voices, Other Rooms
   Breakfast at Tiffany’s
   In Cold Blood
   In Cold Blood, considered his
    masterpiece, was the last book that
    he finished, although it was
    published many years before his
 In 1959, an article in The New York
  Times about a murdered family in
  Kansas caught Capote’s eye.
 He decided to travel to Kansas,
  with his best friend, Harper Lee, to
  gather information to write what he
  called, “the first non-fiction novel.”
 After exhaustive interviews with
  everyone involved in the case,
  Capote published In Cold Blood
  almost six years after the Clutter
  family murders.
 Overnight, it became a best-seller,
  earning Capote a fortune.
 In Cold Blood added to
  Capote’s already enormous
  celebrity status.
 Unfortunately, as a member of
  New York’s exclusive “jet-set,”
  he started drinking heavily and
  using drugs.
 In 1984, he died of an alcohol
  and drug overdose.
         In Cold Blood

 This novel raises the following
 What role does child abuse
  play in shaping a person’s
  adult behavior?
 Is capital punishment
  acceptable for murder?
 Do prisons reform inmates?
 InCold Blood is divided into
  four sections:
 The Last to See Them Alive
 Persons Unknown
 Answer
 The Corner
        Holcomb, KS
      November 14, 1959
   The Herbert Clutter family was
    asleep when intruders entered.
   Herb Clutter: strong, intelligent,
    honest, a community leader, deeply
   Bonnie Clutter: frail, mentally ill,
    nervous, seldom left home
   Nancy Clutter: vibrant, attractive,
    intelligent, popular teenage
   Kenyon Clutter: athletic, intelligent,
    a year younger than Nancy
   Bobby Rupp: Nancy’s steady
    boyfriend, and the last to see the
    family alive
         Dick Hickcock
        from Olathe, KS

 Led a somewhat normal, but
  impoverished childhood
 Married and divorced twice, with three
 On parole in 1959, not allowed to
  associate with ex-cons
 Tall, lean, athletic
 Blonde, blue-eyed
 Facial injuries from a severe car wreck
 Blue “dot” tattoo under one eye
 Numerous self-produced tattoos on body
 Believed that information obtained from
  fellow prison inmate Floyd Wells was true
  about the wealth of the Clutter family
 Became obsessed with a plan to rob and
  kill the Clutters
          Perry Smith
    from Las Vegas, Nevada

   Half-American Indian
   Short, dark-haired and dark-eyed
   Many tattoos on body
   Lived in extreme poverty during childhood;
    suffered extreme physical and mental abuse
   Alcoholic American Indian mother was a rodeo
    trick rider; abusive father tried to start a tourist
    lodge in Alaska before it became a state
   Parents divorced; placed Perry in an orphanage;
    later lived off and on with his father
   Awarded Bronze Star in Korean War
   Legs stunted grotesquely from a severe
    motorcycle wreck
   Constant leg pain; addicted to aspirin
   Intelligent, large vocabulary, artistic
   Superstitious; many phobias
   Met Dick Hickcock in prison and later learned
    about Dick’s “big score” idea to rob and kill the

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