The most important thing any writer can do is to give their characters a feel ofdimension to make them seem real. Although Capote and Krakauer do that in verydifferent ways in In Cold Blood and Into Thin Air, they both reached the same end result:characters you believe. They give them thoughts, faces and personalities. They dontportray everyone as flawless, they display the faults and the little quirks. They give themlife through words, making these stories believable. Despite the fact both incidentshappened years before each book was written, the use of detailed facts and personalityprofiles make each story seem incredibly realistic. But while Capote chooses to write anentirely objective piece, Krakauer relies heavily on personal opinion and experience,creating two very distinct frames of mind and causing the reader too see the characters ineach book very differently.
In 1959 the Clutter family was murdered in a tiny Kansas town called Holcomb.
Six years later Truman Capote wrote a very detailed book about the whole case, from theday of the murder to the court case prosecuting the two murderers, Dick and Perry.
Although he wasnt there when the four murders happened, through word choice,description and characterization he creates an accurate portrait of the many intense eventssurrounding such a tragic story.
In comparison, in 1996 esteemed climber Rob Hall led an expedition ofmoderately experienced climbers attempting to climb Mt. Everest, only to result indisaster and the loss of nine peoples lives. Jon Krakauer was a member of thatexpedition, and wrote a piece about the misadventure for Outside magazine. Feeling therewas more to be said, soon after he wrote a book. Krakauer takes a similar approach asCapote, yet inserting more opinions and less of a feeling of objectiveness to hischaracters. This is most likely since Krakauer was living Everest first hand, as opposed toCapote who put himself into the environment years later, picking up details here and thereinstead of relying solely on memory and friends. One of Capotes greatest strengths is to create thought for his characters, making italmost appear as if he knows what they are thinking.
All summer Perry undulated between half-awake stupors and stickly, sweat-drenchedsleep. Voices roared through his head; one voice persistently asked him, Where is Jesus? Where? And once he woke up shouting, The bird is Jesus! The Bird is Jesus! (381)This selection almost creates a feeling that Capote is talking about himself as opposed toa man he never met. Although this type of detail may seem unimportant to the overallstory, it creates an amazing sense of believability. That ability is one of the main reasonsCapotes book is so believable. By seeing Perry suffer through his horrible nightmares itseasier to believe his character. It makes him very real and lifelike to the readers.
Krakauer also gives voice to his characters, yet his interpretation of them seems tobe constantly influenced by his own opinions of their personality and actions.
Stuart Hutchinson, thirty-four, attired in a Ren and Stimpy tee shirt, was a cerebral,somewhat wonkish Canadian cardiologist on leave from a research fellowship. (37)By implying that he pictured Hutchinson as wonkish (i.e. behavior seen as crazy,humorous, or amusingly perverse) he is putting an idea in the readers head whichotherwise might not have been there. It is Krakauer stating his view on the mansbehavior that provides a different tone, basing that on the fact that other people on theexpedition may not have felt the same way.
One area in which both authors excel is description. Both stories have a sense ofreality, with all the fabulous description of scenery it is easier to picture what ishappening. For Capote, it wasnt hard to get people to relate to a small town in theMidwest.
At one end of the town stands a dark old stucco structure, the roof of whichsupports an electric sign –DANCE– but the dancing has ceased and the advertisement has beendark for several years. (13)That is a sight which many people have seen in one form or another in their lives,making it even easier to understand the town of Holcomb and its small population. Krakauer has a harder task, trying to relate readers to being on Mt. Everest,something very few people have ever done. To make up for that fact, he uses great detailto help create a picture in his readers mind.
Cinders, coarse gravel, and granite boulders covered much of the ice, but every now andthen the trail would cross a patch of bare glacier- a translucent, frozen medium that glistens likepolished onyx. (58)Although Capote and Krakauer each have a different style, different opinions anddifferent ways of making the truth story like, both are wonderful storytellers and havecreated great examples of true stories.
BibliographyWorks CitedCapote, Truman. In Cold Blood. New York: Random House Publishing, 1966.
Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air. New York: Villard Books, 1997