In Cold Blood

Son of John “Tex” Smith and Julia “Flo” Buckskin. Murdered the Clutter family with the aid of Dick Hickok. A sensitive, artistic type who entertains fantastic dreams of treasure hunting and working as an entertainer in a night club, Perry is seemingly driven to a life of crime by his traumatic childhood. He is handsome and “actorish,” but a motorcycle accident has disfigured the lower half of his body. He is in chronic pain due to the accident and is addicted to aspirin. He may be a paranoid schizophrenic. He is half-Cherokee.

Perry Edward Smith Quotes in In Cold Blood

The In Cold Blood quotes below are all either spoken by Perry Edward Smith or refer to Perry Edward Smith. 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:

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[T]he dream of drifting downward through strange waters, of plunging toward a green sea-dusk, sliding past the scaly, savage-eyed protectors of a ship’s hulk that loomed ahead, a Spanish galleon – a drowned cargo of diamonds and pearls, heaping caskets of gold.

Related Characters: Perry Edward Smith
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 2 Quotes

…once a thing is set to happen, all you can do is hope it won’t. Or will – depending. As long as you life, there’s always something waiting, and even if it’s bad, and you know it’s bad, what can you do?

Related Characters: Perry Edward Smith (speaker)
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

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It was after one of these beatings, one [Perry] could never forget…that the parrot appeared, arrived while he slept, a bird “taller than Jesus, yellow like a sunflower,” a warrior-angel who blinded the nuns with its beak, fed upon their eyes, slaughtered them as they “pleaded for mercy,” then so gently lifted him, enfolded him, winged him away to “paradise.”

Related Characters: Perry Edward Smith
Related Symbols: The Golden Parrot
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

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No fooling Dick…This is authentic. I’ve got a map. I’ve got the whole history. It was buried there back in 1821 – Peruvian bullion, jewelry. Sixty million dollars – that’s what they say it’s worth. Even if we didn’t find all of it, even if we only found some of it – Are you with me, Dick?

Related Characters: Perry Edward Smith (speaker), Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

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Now, what kind of person would do that – tie up two women…and then draw up the bedcovers, tuck them in, like sweet dreams and good night?

Related Characters: Alvin Dewey (speaker), Perry Edward Smith, Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:

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Deal me out, baby. I’m a normal.

Related Characters: Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok (speaker), Perry Edward Smith
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 3 Quotes

But I’m afraid of [Perry]. I always have been. He can seem so warmhearted and sympathetic. Gentle. He cries so easily…. Oh, he can fool you. He can make you feel so sorry for him –

Related Characters: Barbara (Smith) Johnson (speaker), Perry Edward Smith
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:

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Things hadn’t changed much. Perry was twenty-odd years older and a hundred pounds heavier, and yet his material situation had improved not at all. He was still…an urchin dependent, so to say, on stolen coins.

Related Characters: Perry Edward Smith
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:
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Dick was sick of [Perry] – his harmonica, his aches and ills, his superstitions, the weepy, womanly eyes, the nagging, whispering voice. Suspicious, self-righteous, spiteful, he was like a wife that must be got rid of.

Related Characters: Perry Edward Smith, Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickok
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:

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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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Nonetheless, [Alvin] found it possible to look at the man beside him without anger…for Perry Smith’s life had been no bed of roses but pitiful, an ugly and lonely progress toward one mirage and then another.

Related Characters: Perry Edward Smith, Alvin Dewey
Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 4 Quotes

The cats, for example: the two thin gray toms who appeared with every twilight and prowled the Square, stopping to examine the cars parked around its periphery – behavior puzzling to [Perry] until Mrs. Meier explained that the cats were hunting for dead birds caught in the vehicles’ engine grilles. Thereafter it pained him to watch their maneuvers: “Because most of my life I’ve done what they’re doing. The equivalent.”

Related Characters: Perry Edward Smith, Josephine Meier
Related Symbols: Two Gray Cats
Page Number: 264
Explanation and Analysis:

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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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I think…it’s a helluva thing to take a life in this manner. I don’t believe in capital punishment, morally or legally. Maybe I had something to contribute, something – It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize.

Related Characters: Perry Edward Smith (speaker)
Related Symbols: Death Row
Page Number: 340
Explanation and Analysis:

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Perry Edward Smith Character Timeline in In Cold Blood

The timeline below shows where the character Perry Edward Smith 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
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Perry Smith is sitting in the Little Jewel Café in Olathe, Kansas. He’s drinking a root... (full context)
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Perry gets into Dick’s car – a black 1949 Chevrolet. Dick is still wearing his blue... (full context)
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...lie: he’s told them that he’s going on an overnight trip to Fort Scott with Perry in order to collect money from Perry’s sister. They finish tuning up the car at... (full context)
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Having finished tuning up the Chevy, Dick and Perry spend the next hour “sprucing up” in the body shop’s bathroom. Both men are rather... (full context)
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Dick and Perry reach the large town of Emporia, Kansas in order to pick up supplies for the... (full context)
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Dick and Perry, still on the hunt for black pantyhose, are parked outside of a Catholic hospital on... (full context)
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Dick and Perry drive through the night. Perry gazes out at the flat landscape and reflects on how... (full context)
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Dick and Perry have a veritable feast at a diner in Great Bend. They take off for Holcomb,... (full context)
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While in the car, Dick worries that Perry has changed his mind about the “score” – something Dick hadn’t expected. Perry had once... (full context)
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Perry sleeps in a motel room in Olathe, Kansas. His boots are soaking in the washbasin;... (full context)
Part 2: Persons Unknown
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Perry and Dick sit in a café in Kansas City. Perry obsessively reads a front-page article... (full context)
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Dick questions Perry’s premonitions. Perry shrugs. “[O]nce a thing is set up to happen, all you can do... (full context)
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Kansas City. Perry and Dick have been busy – Dick has been writing bad checks all over Kansas... (full context)
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After a day of pawning, Dick and Perry have made quite a bit of money. Perry is excited – finally, his dream of... (full context)
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Having loaded the Chevy with stolen goods and all of Perry’s worldly belongings, Perry and Dick cross into Oklahoma. Perry is relieved, but Dick is uneasy... (full context)
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Dick and Perry are having a roadside picnic in Mexico. Perry speculates that there must be something wrong... (full context)
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As they drive away, Perry reflects on their conversation. Memories of the murder haunt him. He wonders if he was... (full context)
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Dick and Perry are aboard a small boat off the coast of Acapulco. A young Mexican man and... (full context)
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Dick and Perry are in a motel room in Mexico City. Perry has come to realize that Dick... (full context)
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Checkout time at the motel is drawing near, and Perry rifles through his memorabilia, trying to decide what he can afford to take with him.... (full context)
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Perry thinks back on his time as a Merchant Marine. He’d loved the seafaring life, but... (full context)
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Perry is shaken from his reminiscence and pulls out another letter, this time from his sister... (full context)
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After Perry reads this letter, it is revealed that he hates Barbara, and that he harbors a... (full context)
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Perry picks up a notebook: “The Private Diary of Perry Edward Smith.” Perry’s diary contains quotes,... (full context)
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Dick and Perry are hitchhiking in the Mojave Desert. Their plan is to get picked up by a... (full context)
Part 3: Answer
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...to him that the Clutter family was well off. Dick subsequently boasted that he and Perry were going to rob and kill the Clutters. Floyd is afraid to squeal on Dick,... (full context)
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...seemed resentful that his family couldn’t afford to send him to college. Mrs. Hickok blames Perry for Dick’s continued criminal behavior. Agent Nye catches a glimpse of a 12-gauge shotgun leaning... (full context)
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Dick and Perry hitch a ride with a traveling businessman. Dick chats up the businessman, all the while... (full context)
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Agent Nye visits a rooming house in Las Vegas where Perry had once lived. The landlady remarks that she’s expecting Perry to turn up any day,... (full context)
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Iowa. Dick and Perry seek shelter from a rainstorm in a barn. They’re headed for Kansas City, where Dick... (full context)
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Kansas City. Perry is at the Washateria, doing laundry and waiting for Dick to return. He feels sick... (full context)
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Alvin, in the midst of a dream about catching Dick and Perry, is awakened by a call from Agent Nye. Dick and Perry have been traced to... (full context)
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Christmas Day. Dick and Perry are on the beach in Miami, Florida, where they’ve been for several days. Dick collects... (full context)
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Perry – aware of his friend’s pedophilia - is concerned that Dick will try to rape... (full context)
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Dick and Perry pick up a couple hitchhikers – an old man and a young boy. Dick is... (full context)
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December 30th. The Dewey household. Alvin gets a call notifying him that Dick and Perry have been arrested in Las Vegas. Alvin is at first delighted and then is overcome... (full context)
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Earlier that day, Dick and Perry arrive at the post office in Las Vegas to pick up a box they mailed... (full context)
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...denies his involvement with the murders. Agent Nye emerges from the interrogation room and spots Perry. He’s fascinated by Perry’s short legs, tiny feet, dark complexion, and “pert, impish features.” Alvin... (full context)
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Perry and Dick are jailed in separate cells, and they ruminate about their respective interrogations. Perry... (full context)
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Perry and Dick are interrogated a second time. Perry sticks to the alibi. Dick, on the... (full context)
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Dick and Perry are being driven back to Garden City in a police caravan. Perry sits in the... (full context)
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Once in Garden City, the agents turn Perry against Dick, and Perry fills the investigators in on details of the murder. Perry recounts... (full context)
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Perry describes how he’d tried to make the Clutters more comfortable after he’d tied them up.... (full context)
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...automobiles. Nearby, a large crowd has gathered outside of the courthouse to see Dick and Perry get escorted to jail. The crowd falls silent when they finally arrive, “as though amazed... (full context)
Part 4: The Corner
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Perry is the first man to ever be held in the “ladies’ cell,” which is built... (full context)
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Perry proves to be a rather charming detainee: he acquires a pet squirrel; he takes pride... (full context)
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Perry receives a letter from an old Army buddy named Don Cullivan. He doesn’t have a... (full context)
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Perry watches the two gray cats from his window and realizes that his life has been... (full context)
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...that the trial will be held in Garden City, given that sentiment toward Dick and Perry is essentially uniform throughout the state. Additionally, many of Garden City’s Christian leaders are opposed... (full context)
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A jury is selected, and during that time Dick and Perry write autobiographical statements for Dr. Jones, the defense’s psychiatrist. Perry’s statement details a shattered family... (full context)
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...recesses for the weekend, Alvin testifies that Dick had planned on raping Nancy and that Perry had prevented him from doing so. He also reveals that Perry had willingly taken the... (full context)
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Spurred by religious feeling, Don Cullivan visits Perry in prison. Perry has a special meal prepared for his guest, and he makes sure... (full context)
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...allowed to speak, other than to state whether he has an opinion whether Dick and Perry knew right from wrong at the time of the murders. Dr. Jones states that he... (full context)
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...argues that the Bible is in favor of the death penalty, and that Dick and Perry are so dangerous that anything short of the death penalty would effectively give them the... (full context)
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After the trial, Mrs. Meier overhears Perry weeping in his cell. She holds his hand, and he says, “I’m embraced by shame.” (full context)
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The next day, Dick and Perry are sent back to Kansas State Penitentiary in Lansing, where they’re put on Death Row.... (full context)
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Dick and Perry survive their first execution date, given that their case is in appeals court. Perry and... (full context)
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...is conducted in Garden City, in which “the whole cast” is reassembled (minus Dick and Perry). After much deliberation, it’s decided that Perry and Dick had “received a constitutionally fair trial,”... (full context)
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In the meantime, Andrews is executed. Dick and Perry watch the proceedings from their cells in Death Row – they can see everything but... (full context)
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...innocence – he’s convinced, at this point, that he never killed anyone. He claims that Perry wants Dick to die – “He’s plain determined that if he goes I go.” Dick... (full context)
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Three years pass, and Dick and Perry manage to slip by three more execution dates. Finally, their final appeal fails, and their... (full context)
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Perry is then led to the gallows. His last words are solemn: “I think,” he says,... (full context)