In Cold Blood
The Last to See Them Alive: 3 of 3
Nancy Ewalt, a schoolmate of Nancy Clutter, comes to the house the next morning. No one answers, so she and her father go to ask Susan Kidwell if she knows anything. Together, they return to the house and find the bodies.
The local mail messenger, Sadie Truitt, sees ambulances approaching the Clutter farm. Soon, she and her daughter (who is also the postmistress) Myrtle Clare hear news of the murders over the radio. Myrt is cynical about the news, but they are both shocked.
That morning the news was announced from Sunday morning church pulpits and over the radio. Many men converged on Hartman's Cafe, where Bess Hartman realizes that the killer was probably someone she knows, someone from the town. Susan and Bobby Rupp are hysterical.
Meanwhile, Perry is sleeping in a hotel, while Dick has sat down to dinner with his family. He told them that he and Perry were going to visit Perry's sister in Fort Scott. After dinner, Dick falls asleep, exhausted.
Capote wisely leaves out the murder scene. Later, when the killers finally confess, Capote simply includes their description of what happened. Of course, he could have included those descriptions here, but that would detract from the novel. One of the most important plot elements of the novel is the race to discover who the killers are. And for the reader there is the mystery of exactly how the murders took place. Capote leaves the details of the murder out of the book, encouraging the reader to guess exactly what happened, as in a detective novel. He also chooses not to reveal the motive for the crime until the killers confess.
The final chapters of "The Last to See Them Alive" describe Holcomb's reaction to the murders. The main characters of the first chapters of the novel, Dick and Perry and the Clutters, recede, and various citizens of Holcomb come to the fore. Although Dick and Perry will remain important throughout the novel, they are not the heroes or even the anti-heroes of the novel, in the traditional sense of the word. Instead of having heroes, this "nonfiction novel" focuses on whatever figures are relevant to the murder case at any given time. For now, the public's reaction is important. Later, the focus will shift to the police.
Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!