In Cold Blood

Bonnie Clutter Character Analysis

Wife of Herb Clutter, mother of Eveanna Jarchow, Beverly English, Nancy Clutter, and Kenyon Clutter. Murdered by Perry Smith and Dick Hickok. Bonnie is a “nervous” woman who has a history of post-partum depression and other mental illnesses, all of which were treated with little to no success. Her mental illnesses appear to make difficult her relationships with her husband and children.

Bonnie Clutter Quotes in In Cold Blood

The In Cold Blood quotes below are all either spoken by Bonnie Clutter or refer to Bonnie Clutter. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of In Cold Blood published in 1994.
Part 1 Quotes

At the time, not a soul in sleeping Holcomb heard them – four shotgun blasts that, all told, ended six human lives.

Related Characters: Perry Edward Smith, Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok, Herb Clutter, Bonnie Clutter, Nancy Clutter, Kenyon Clutter
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

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Always certain of what he wanted from the world, Mr. Clutter had in large measure obtained it…[H]e wore a plain gold band, which was the symbol…of his marriage to the person he had wished to marry…She had given him four children – a trio of daughters and a son.

Related Characters: Herb Clutter, Bonnie Clutter, Nancy Clutter, Kenyon Clutter, Eveanna (Clutter) Jarchow, Beverly (Clutter) English
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

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Little things really belong to you…They don’t have to be left behind. You can carry them in a shoebox.

Related Characters: Bonnie Clutter (speaker)
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 2 Quotes

How was it possible that such effort, such plain virtue, could overnight be reduced to this – smoke, thinning as it rose and was received by the big, annihilating sky?

Related Characters: Herb Clutter, Bonnie Clutter, Nancy Clutter, Kenyon Clutter
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

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Nancy wore her dress of cherry-red velvet, her brother a bright plaid shirt; the parents were more sedately attired, Mr. Clutter in navy-blue flannel, his wife in navy-blue crepe; and – and it was this, especially, that lent the scene an awful aura – the head of each was completely encased in cotton, a swollen cocoon twice the size of an ordinary blown-up balloon, and the cotton, because it had been sprayed with a glossy substance, twinkled like Christmas-tree snow.

Related Characters: Herb Clutter, Bonnie Clutter, Nancy Clutter, Kenyon Clutter
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 3 Quotes

Perry Smith killed the Clutters…. It was Perry. I couldn’t stop him. He killed them all.

Related Characters: Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok (speaker), Perry Edward Smith, Herb Clutter, Bonnie Clutter, Nancy Clutter, Kenyon Clutter
Page Number: 230
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 4 Quotes

Soldiers don’t lose much sleep. They murder, and get medals for doing it. The good people of Kansas want to murder me – and some hangman will be glad to get the work. It’s easy to kill – a lot easier than passing a bad check. Just remember: I only knew the Clutters maybe an hour. If I’d really known them, I guess I’d feel different. I don’t think I could live with myself. But the way it was, it was like picking targets off in a shooting gallery.

Related Characters: Perry Edward Smith (speaker), Herb Clutter, Bonnie Clutter, Nancy Clutter, Kenyon Clutter
Related Symbols: Death Row
Page Number: 291
Explanation and Analysis:

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Bonnie Clutter Character Timeline in In Cold Blood

The timeline below shows where the character Bonnie Clutter appears in In Cold Blood. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: The Last to See Them Alive
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
Normal vs. Abnormal Theme Icon
Herb’s wife, Bonnie Clutter, is introduced. She is a “nervous” woman who throughout her life has suffered from... (full context)
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
Normal vs. Abnormal Theme Icon
...his wife is sleeping upstairs, in Eveanna’s former bedroom. It is revealed that Herb and Bonnie haven’t slept in the same bed for several years. The house he lives in –... (full context)
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
...recalls the happy early days of his marriage, when he used to picnic there with Bonnie and the children. (full context)
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
Normal vs. Abnormal Theme Icon
...grouchiness has nothing to do with Bobby. Sue, who knows Nancy very well, asks if Bonnie’s the source of the trouble. Nancy brushes this suggestion off, but secretly wonders whether Sue... (full context)
Normal vs. Abnormal Theme Icon
...was able to help. Jolene wants to eat the pie right away, offering pieces to Bonnie and Nancy. They refuse – Nancy has to go help tutor another neighborhood girl, and... (full context)
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
Bonnie takes Jolene into the dining room, where she keeps an assortment of miniatures on display.... (full context)
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
Normal vs. Abnormal Theme Icon
Bonnie, alone in the house, decides to go to back to bed – “the bed she... (full context)
Christianity Theme Icon
Evil Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
...at point-blank range, but strangely enough she’s also been tucked into bed. They then discover Bonnie’s body in Eveanna’s room. Her hands have been tied in front of her, “so that... (full context)
Part 2: Persons Unknown
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
Normal vs. Abnormal Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
...a press conference, Alvin reveals the basic facts of the case, and reveals that neither Bonnie nor Nancy had been “sexually molested.” The agents follow a number of leads, but have... (full context)
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
Normal vs. Abnormal Theme Icon
...town for the funeral. The day the last of the Clutter clan left Garden City, Bonnie’s brother Howard Fox ran a letter in the Garden City Telegram asking that the locals... (full context)