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In Cold Blood Part 4 Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'In Cold Blood' by Truman Capote created the genre of the true crime novel through its dramatic telling of the Clutter family murder in 1959. This asset contains discussion questions for students about part 4 of this book.

'In Cold Blood' by Truman Capote created the genre of the true crime novel through its dramatic telling of the Clutter family murder in 1959. This asset contains discussion questions for students about part 4 of this book.

In Cold Blood

Truman Capote's In Cold Blood explains the true story of the murder of the Clutter family at their farm in Kansas in 1959. Part 4 of this novel describes the trial and execution of Perry Smith and Dick Hickock. The following discussion questions may be used to support high school students.

Jail

  • Describe the jail setting. Why do you think Perry is chosen to stay in the ladies' cell? Describe the relationship between Josie Meier and Perry. Why do you think Perry is portrayed as a sympathetic character? What are some other examples of charismatic sociopaths you have learned about?
  • Why does Perry want to change his confession before signing it? Why do you think Dick Hickock is charged with murder despite this change? What do you think happened in the Clutter home? Justify your answer with text evidence.
  • What evidence do Dick and Perry help investigators uncover? Why are they accused of the murder of a Florida family? Do you think this accusation is justified? Explain your answer.
  • Compare the family support Dick receives in jail to the support Perry receives. What would you do if a close family member was accused of a horrific crime? Explain your answer.
  • After the arrest, describe Dick and Perry's feelings about each other. Why do you think they are so different? How do each of the men spend their time while awaiting trial? What do their pastimes reveal about each of them? What would you do with the time?

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