In Cold Blood

Proprietor of River Valley Farm, husband to Bonnie Clutter, and father of Eveanna Jarchow, Beverly English, Nancy Clutter, and Kenyon Clutter. Murdered by Perry Smith and Dick Hickok. Herb is a devout Methodist, a hard worker, and a valued citizen of Holcomb, Kansas. A university-educated man, he pulled himself up by the bootstraps to become a prosperous farmer and rancher. By all appearances normal, Herb seems to harbor some secret unhappiness. His marriage is by all accounts troubled.

Herb Clutter Quotes in In Cold Blood

The In Cold Blood quotes below are all either spoken by Herb Clutter or refer to Herb 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer 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:

Lorem ipsum doLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other In Cold Blood quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Part 4 Quotes

As the auction progressed, and Mr. Clutter’s worldly domain dwindled, gradually vanished, Paul Helm, remembering the burial of the murdered family said, “It’s like a second funeral.”

Related Characters: Herb Clutter, Paul Helm
Page Number: 270
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Get the entire In Cold Blood LitChart as a printable PDF.
In cold blood.pdf.medium

Herb Clutter Character Timeline in In Cold Blood

The timeline below shows where the character Herb 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
Christianity Theme Icon
Flashback to two days earlier. We’re introduced to Herb Clutter – the “master” of River Valley Farm. Herb is middle-aged, but “in first-rate condition”... (full context)
Christianity Theme Icon
Normal vs. Abnormal Theme Icon
...success in the play, as well as his wife’s good spirits – gives her permission. Herb gives Nancy a scolding later that night, given that she returns home two hours late,... (full context)
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
Normal vs. Abnormal Theme Icon
Herb ends up sleeping in, given that he went to bed far too late. He wakes... (full context)
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
Normal vs. Abnormal Theme Icon
Herb’s backstory is touched upon in this scene, detailing how he worked his way up from... (full context)
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
Herb greets the farm’s “sole resident employee,” Alfred Stoecklein. Alfred begs off work, given that his... (full context)
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
Five pheasant hunters from Oklahoma appear, and they approach Herb. Teddy runs at them but, gun-shy, he quickly puts his head down and tucks his... (full context)
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
...scheduled for that day. While in his office, she notices a peculiar smell of tobacco. Herb gives her leave to skip 4-H, and Nancy tells a relieved Mrs. Katz that she... (full context)
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
Normal vs. Abnormal Theme Icon
...friend Susan Kidwell calls on the phone. Nancy reveals to her that she’s worried about Herb – she suspects that he’s been smoking cigarettes. She also mentions that Herb has once... (full context)
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
Normal vs. Abnormal Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
Herb and Kenyon attend the 4-H Club meeting in Garden City, a town of eleven thousand... (full context)
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
...Mr. Clutter write a check for a new life insurance policy. Mr. Johnson jokes about Herb’s infamous habit of never carrying cash. Herb boasts about his daughter’s impending marriage, and comments... (full context)
Christianity Theme Icon
Evil Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
...mouth has been taped shut. She, too, has been shot in the head. Kenyon and Herb are found in the basement, in separate rooms. Both are tied, have their mouths taped,... (full context)
Part 2: Persons Unknown
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
Four of Herb’s closest friends go to the Clutter home in order to clean up. As they burn... (full context)
Part 3: Answer
Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
Floyd Wells, a former employee of Herb’s and a current inmate at Kansas State Penitentiary in Lansing (imprisoned for stealing lawnmowers, in... (full context)