In Cold Blood, Truman Capote speaks of the gruesome murder of the Clutter family by Perry Smith and Dick Hickock. At the time, fellow friends and acquaintances of the deceased were still confused as to why it was committed. The Clutter family were known to be one of the very few diligent, ambitious, and prosperous family in Holcomb, Kansas that never committed any harm. However, their prosperity was eye-opening to Perry Smith and Dick Hickock; they were told that a safe with 10 grand remains in their house.
Smith and Hickock found no such safe and killed them all to remove any witnesses. Thus, a death penalty awaits them. Although the murders were premeditated, they shall not be executed as it does not exceed ethics.
It’s crucial that besides criticizing the murder event itself, we should acknowledge the events and backgrounds of Perry Smith and Dick Hickock that contributed to this homicide. According to Perry’s father’s letter, Perry was a very likable kid throughout the neighborhood; he treated others with great respect.
However, his mother was an alcoholic and rarely played a role in his life. This indicates that Perry had trouble in the guidance of life considering his mother chose alcohol over him. Stating the right from wrong was an issue since his father also had left him to an orphanage. Who was there to nurture him? Not only was he alone, but he was also abused for a long duration of time. The orphanage’s nuns would constantly beat him for wetting the bed repeatedly. Thus, such psychological and physical abuse led Perry to grow a rage that was triggered when he killed the Clutter family. In addition to his mental illness, Dr.Jones, a psychologist who performed a psychiatric evaluation on Perry, claims he may be a paranoid schizophrenic. This is a serious mental disorder that proves that Perry was not in the right state of mind. He couldn’t control himself and we should not ignore this serious diagnosis.
We should avoid execution and nourish this man with help in which he was always deprived of. On the other hand, Dick was a star athlete who performed academically well in high school. According to his parents, he was always considerate and caring towards them. However, this all changed when he suffered head injuries from a car accident; he claimed that periods of headaches, blackout spells, and amnesia were endured. Furthermore, he started to gamble and become restless, and drink with older men. We can conclude that Dick is no longer the boy he was before. It’s hard to prove why a brilliant star athlete became a murderer. It’s simply because it was due to his head injuries. Head injuries can result in severe brain damage; it changes a person’s way of thinking. Therefore, on the night of the Clutter family’s murder, he showed emotional abnormality and did not plan well. He should receive medical treatments to recover from this hardship rather than execution.
One may say that Smith and Hickock deserve to be executed because they stole the lives of many and happiness from others. All killers should ultimately be punished. According to the article, From Abused Child to Serial Killer, it states that sociopaths smile, smirk or outright laugh at the sufferings of others. Smith and Hickock can be identified as sociopaths considering you can actually see a picture of them smiling at the cameras. In Cold Blood, when Perry started firing shots, Dick just watched and thought it was cool. There are people who kill because they claim they have a reason however they don’t say it’s cool. A “normal” person would feel guilty and not find their crimes as a “score”. Although Dr.Jones said that both Smith and Hickcock showed signs of emotional abnormality and distress, they knew right from wrong. Why should we let these men escape execution when they knew exactly what they were doing during the homicide. They knew these people were innocent, defenseless, and most of all, in extreme agony. Imagine having to watch your family member be shotgunned to the face and not have the power to do anything. It is purely traumatizing. This was just because they found no money. If they sacrificed the lives of four then they shall be punished. However, execution does not prove anything. These murderers can recover to creates changes but not when they aren’t given the benefit of the doubt.
It’s the 21st century and surprisingly society does not prioritize mental health. Millions of people are victims of this issue which needs recognition. If not treated, it leads to abnormal and destructive behavior. People will lead their lives thinking that how they are feeling and what’s in their minds is not wrong. It’s easy to blame them but we need to put ourselves in their shoes. We don’t truly know what it’s like but we do know what can help. I believe we should spread awareness of mental health by directly incorporating it into our educational curriculums. There should be classes in how to cope with it and overall learn how it works to avoid the future judgment of others. Thus, when kids walk out of that class, they know a lot more about the people surrounding them. Such as why their classmate is always upset, maybe depression or anxiety? In addition, therapy should be free! This is a major problem present; the average therapy session costs about $60-$120. Not everyone can afford that, their mental health shouldn’t be dependent on money. Overall, we need to step up the game.
Perry Smith and Dick Hickock both experienced traumatic events in their lifetime. Whether it was short or long terms, this great impact help shaped the person that they became. At the night of the murders, it was the lowest point of their lives. Their minds completely went against ethics therefore the death penalty was administered. Although they were psychologically somewhere else, their mental illness should be taken into consideration. They were unaware of their problems due to society’s norms. Perry and Dick Hicock can be offered psychiatric in treatments prison so when they return to society, they are less of a threat. Convicts matter as well, the past cannot be changed but the future.
Cite this Perry in The Book in Cold Blood
Perry in The Book in Cold Blood. (2021, Jun 10). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/perry-in-the-book-in-cold-blood/