I didn’t want to harm the man. I thought he was a very nice gentleman. Soft-spoken. I thought so right up to the moment I cut his throat.

This quote from Perry is repeated twice in the book. First, it takes place in the end of Part Three: Answers, as Perry is confessing the details of the murder to Dewey and Duntz. The second time it is quoted in Part Four: The Corner, as Capote explores the possible psychological motivations for Perry’s actions. This chilling quote encapsulates the senselessness inherent in Perry’s crime. In trying to understand why someone would commit murder, there’s a strange comfort and sense of safety in a reason – that the murder was committed in self-defense, perhaps, or out of great personal resentment. The fact that Perry could hold both goodwill toward Herb Clutter and an urge to end his life, simultaneously, suggests there is no satisfying answer to the question: why Herb Clutter? Perhaps the most cold-blooded aspect of the crime is that it ends the Clutters’ promising lives while having very little to do with them at all.