What In Cold Blood gives us today is also a rather unique account into gay male life in 1950s America.

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You will be writing an analytical, as opposed to argumentative, research paper. The major difference between the two research paper types is made in the process of writing or presenting the topic. An analytic paper demands that you perform many tasks: formulate a thesis, gather sources, evaluate them, use them to support your original ideas and meticulously document everything you’ve done. You can save yourself a great deal of time, however, by doing a few simple things before you begin writing.

Forming a research question is the basis of an analytical research paper. The question is neutral and provides direction for you to evaluate and explore the topic as it relates to answering the question. Your thesis statement presents the research question, and the remainder of your paper supports your thesis.

This type of research paper is not a simple regurgitation of information. Instead, it is your thoughts, conclusions and evaluations of a topic that is backed up with logical information. Several things are vital in formulating an analytical research paper:

You answer the research questions objectively.
You have no preconceived notions or opinions about the topic.
You evaluate the topic and draw conclusions from factual information from reliable sources.
You piece findings together to present the purpose of the paper.
You use serious contemplation and a critical evaluation to answer the research question.

Begin with Research -Unlike the essays you have been writing, the research must happen before you start writing. This is why your annotated bibliography is necessary.

Outline – Outlining your paper is necessary to organize your thoughts, and your research.

Thesis Statement – Because your assignment asks a specific question, turn the question into an assertion and give reasons why it is true or reasons for your opinion.

Writing a draft. Drafting is one of the last stages in the process of writing a research paper. No drafting should take place without a research question or thesis statement; otherwise, the student will find himself writing without a purpose or direction. Think of the research question or thesis statement as a compass. The research the student has completed is a vast sea of information through which he must navigate; without a compass, the student will be tossed aimlessly about by the waves of sources. In the end, he might discover the Americas (though the journey will be much longer than needed), orand what


The Nonfiction novel – Capote wrote In Cold Blood as a literary experiment. He wanted to write a “nonfiction novel.” He felt that he was one of the rare creative people who actually took journalism seriously. The question is whether a book such as In Cold Blood is actually a novel, a creative work, or journalism.
Is In Cold Blood a nonfiction novel? Research Capote, the case, his involvement with the case, and think about how he uses literary devices. Does he recreate, or create, the mood, does he turn the people involved into sympathetic or antagonistic characters? What, if any, is his bias.

It becomes obvious that Capote had a closer relationship to Perry than to Dick. He succeeds in letting the reader feel sympathetic for Perry and in creating a more positive image of him than of Dick (Matthias 18). Do you agree with Matthias? Analyze the book for textual evidence and Research Capotes involvement with Perry and Dick before their execution.

Capote is known as a Southern Gothic author. Are characteristics of Southern Gothic literature present in In Cold Blood, and if so, how does that influence Capotes credibility in claiming the text is nonfiction.

Critics agree that Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (1966) gave birth to the True Crime genre, a recently coined term used to refer to nonfictional accounts of actual crimes, usually murders. In the article Is True Crime Entertainment Morally Defensible, Rachel Chestnut writes, Delving deeper into real tragedies and revealing them to the public has its benefits, such as re-evaluating botched or unjust criminal trials and allowing viewers to think critically. Unfortunately, these advantages are outweighed by the genres tendency to exploit suffering, lean toward a preconceived narrative, prioritize ratings over morality and manipulate public opinion (Chestnut). The genre is problematic due to the possible revictimization of victims, a lack of subjectivity, the possible influence on public perception, sensationalism, etc. Research the genre and its infuence to answer the question of whether or not it is morally defensible.

The American Dream – The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims that “all men are created equal” and that they are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

How does Capote present the American Dream- and its destruction in the novel?

What In Cold Blood gives us today is also a rather unique account into gay male life in 1950s America. Since Capote was a queer-identified writer, the book is enriched by his eye for understanding the dynamics of gender presentation of gay men in 1950s America (Smith). Analyze the text to form an opinion of its homoerotic nature, or its lack thereof, and research gay male society in the American 1950s.

In what ways did Mr. Clutter’s life represent the American Dream? And what are the implications of his death?

Does the inability to live the myth of The American Dream lead to Perry and Dicks life of crime with the goal of escaping a rigged system?

Justice A common criticism of In Cold Blood is that Capotes anti-death penalty bias becomes evident in the way [he] expresses and stresses certain facts and arguments (Watson). It has been argued that the novels title can be read as a criticism of the death penalty, and not the murder of the Clutter family.

Analyze In Cold Blood to form an opinion of whether this criticism is valid, and consider what affect that may have on its non-fiction status.

Psychology and the Death Penalty In The Corner, Capote recounts Dr. Jones testimony regarding a psychiatric evaluation on Perry Smith: [Smiths] present personality structure [was] very near to that of a paranoid schizophrenic reaction (298), which entailed an ever-present, poorly controlled rage, and a disregard for reality (297). Should an abusive childhood and/or mental illness mitigate ones responsibility for murdering innocents? Or does murdering innocents mean someone is evil and should be eradicated, regardless of background?

Perry and Dick were both raised in poverty. Research how socioeconomic factors influence the commission of crimes and the justice received.

Research the use of the death penalty in America, and write an informed argument regarding its morality and efficacy as a deterrent.


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