In Cold Blood

by: Truman Capote

Persons Unknown: 2 of 2 (Perry's Background)

Summary Persons Unknown: 2 of 2 (Perry's Background)

Dewey has been working very hard on the case, almost to the point of exhaustion. He is on his way to check over River Valley Farm, a habit of his. On the way, he stops at Hartman's Cafe, where some citizens harass him, asking him to arrest somebody soon so their wives will stop being afraid.

Dick and Perry are hitchhiking in the Mojave Desert. They have almost nothing. They are waiting for a car that they can rob.

The huge chapter on Perry's background is the longest of the book. It reflects the fact that Perry is the most well-developed character in the novel. Capote reports that of the two prisoners, each of whom he interviewed countless times, he was closer to Perry. This is a considerable statement when one takes into account the fact another Capote statement. Before they were executed, he claimed, he was closer to Perry and Dick than to anyone else in the world.

We learn much about Perry. In the first place, it is very eccentric to carry around so much memorabilia, a tendency that seems to indicate a romantic narcissism. His notebooks reveal that he considers himself an intellectual. The recorded quotes and thoughts are generally trite, and the words in his "dictionary" are Latinate monsters too cumbersome to ever use. The language of Willie-Jay is similar. Perry holds Willie-Jay in the highest esteem, but Willie-Jay's letter is full of needlessly big words, and the fact that he wrote an interpretation of Barbara's letter for Perry exhibits a condescending attitude. One wonders how Capote felt, giving the reader information that would reveal Perry's lack of education.

However, Willie-Jay is correct in noting the antagonism in Barbara's letter. She certainly does not feel friendly toward Perry. After this chapter, one feels a great deal of sympathy, even though he is a murderer. He has almost no one left. He has fallen out with his father, and his sister has probably written him out of her will. The rest of his family is dead. Furthermore, Perry's most recent crime seems to flow from previous events. The first time he committed a felony, it was at someone else's suggestion, as in this case. Perry has always been a wanderer, moving from home to home. He has no roots to ground him, and clings to Dick simply because he is there. Dick, on the other hand, has a family and feels more independent.