Nature vs. Nurture in in Cold Blood
The Effects of Ones Environment in In Cold Blood On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, a family of four was brutally murdered by shotgun blasts only a few inches from their faces. The protagonist of the story, Perry Smith, a man with a troubled past, is the one responsible for committing these murders. In framing the question nature versus nurture, Capote’s powerfully written account of the Clutter family killings asks whether a man alone can be held responsible for his actions when his environment has relentlessly neglected him; Perry Smith is a prime example. He is an intelligent, talented, and sensitive human being, who has been warped and rejected by society and his environment, and therefore cannot be held
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Would he still live a life of crime, and would he still kill the Clutter family? He has significant potential for a normal and constructive life had he not been kept out of school and had he lived in a proper environment for a child his age. Had he been taught the things he loved, music, art, literature, he may have found an alternative to crime and a place to escape his traumatic experiences. Perry has a very difficult home life and endures many family issues as he is growing up. When he is a child his parents go through a messy and violent divorce. They are constantly fighting and Perry’s father often beats his mother. In an autobiographical statement for the court Perry explains about his parents divorce stating:
My mother was ‘entertaining’ some sailors while my father was away. When he came home a fight ensued, and my father, after a violent struggle, threw the sailors out & proceeded to beat my mother. I was frightfully scared, in fact all us children were terrified. Crying I was scared because I thought my father was going to hurt me, also because he was beating my mother (Capote 274).
The disruptive family environment and the abuse within his family may have resulted in a mixed sense of morals for Perry. He may have believed it was normal for people to treat each other violently and never was told otherwise. Perry also has to cope with several traumatic events within his family. His mother, an