Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved
In Epic of America (1931), James Truslow Adams wrote that the American Dream is “…a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.” The notion of striving for dreams – the American Dream in particular – is central to…read analysis of Dreams Failed, Dreams Achieved
The notion of Christianity as a force of redemption and salvation is explored in numerous ways throughout the book. It’s emphasized from the beginning that Garden City is a strongly religious (and specifically Christian) town. The Clutters are a Methodist family, and their Methodist frugality and temperance seem to be tied in with their apparent achievement of the American Dream.
Although Perry outwardly shuns Christianity – Catholicism in particular, given that he was at one…read analysis of Christianity
Primarily explored through the seemingly motiveless and random killing of the Clutters, In Cold Blood grapples with the question of what is and isn’t evil. Characters – especially criminals – often hold conflicting and ambiguous attitudes toward evil. Perry, for example, seems to be of the opinion that his killing of the Clutters wasn’t necessarily an evil act. When asked by his staunchly Christian army buddy Don Cullivan whether he felt any shame or…read analysis of Evil
Normal vs. Abnormal
Dick constantly asserts that he’s “a normal,” even though he has deeply abnormal physical features (his face is crooked thanks to a car accident) and even though he’s capable of committing various crimes – up to and including murder. The question of what’s considered normal and abnormal is repeated throughout the book.
For example, what is a normal marriage/family? In spite of being the perfect couple, Herb and Bonnie have a troubled marriage. Dick and…read analysis of Normal vs. Abnormal
Innocence vs. Experience
Prior to the massacre of the Clutter family, Holcomb, Kansas (a small town adjacent to the county seat of Garden City) is portrayed as a kind of Eden before the fall – a quiet, innocent town where nothing of note happens. (Of course, it’s later revealed in the book that the region had its share of horrifying crimes long before the Clutters were murdered, but it’s a time that’s only remembered by the town’s elderly…read analysis of Innocence vs. Experience