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AidanJones

5/25/16

FeminisminLiterature

SusanFaludidefinesfeminismassomethingthatasksthatwomenbefreetodefine
themselves
insteadofhavingtheiridentitydefinedforthem,timeandagain,bytheirculture
andtheirmen.
Feminismhasbeenaroundsincethelate19thcentury,buttheoutreachfor
womensrightshastakenmuchtoolong.TrumanCapotetricklesdetailedlinesinto
InCold
Blood
,wherehegiveshismoremasculinecharactersfemininetraits.Writinginthe1950sis
fardifferentfromwritingfoundtoday,butexamplesofexpectedfeminismcanbefoundinboth.
DoesTrumanCapotecapturefemininityishistaleonpurpose,ordoesthestorytellitselfwitha
womanlyfeel?

InColdBloodhasexamplesofthenormalitiesforwomeninthehouseholdbackin1959.
SinceBonnie,Mr.Clutterswife,isill,HerbClutterhasnotroubletakingoversomeofthe
expectedjobsofyourtypicalstayathomemother.TheClutterfamilyfollowsthestandard
rulesofhouseholdjobsandnormalities,withatwist.Insteadofthemotherbakingforthefamily
andcleaningthehouse,HerbClutterenjoystakingoverthemomrolebybakingpiesand
cleaningthehousehold.AtthesametimeMr.Cluttermajoredinagriculture,givinghimthat
typicalfarmerfatherrole.

TheClutterfamily,livedinHolcomb,asmalltownwithinKansas.Bonnie,Herbert,
Nancy,andKenyonalllivedtogetherinthesamehouseholdin1959.Twoofthedaughtersdid
notliveinthehouseatthetime,EveannaandBeverleyClutterwereawayatcollege.Froma


AidanJones
5/25/16

feministlens,anythingthathasanideaofgenderroles,standards,anddepictioninnarration,or
theauthorswordchoice.
AgoodexampleofCapoteusingfeminisminhisbookiswhenhe
writes,Nancy'sbedroomwasthesmallest,mostpersonalroominthehousegirlish,andas
frothyasaballerina'stutu.[]thewhiteandpinkbed,piledwithbluepillows,wasdominated
byapinkandwhiteteddybearashootinggalleryprizethatBobbyhadwonatacountyfair.
Hegoesintodetail,showingNancyasmoreofareliantyoungwoman,needingherboyfriend
andactinggirlyathome.Eventhough,sadly,Nancydoesnothaveahugerolein
InColdBlood
,
itgivesyoumoreofanideaofherpersonality,andletsthereadertrulyconnectwiththe
character.DoesTrumanCapotegooutofhiswaytoaddfeminisminhisnovel,ordoes
feminismappearnaturallyinthetruestoryhetells?

AnotherexampleofCapoteusingfeminismiswhenhestates,Someyearsearlier,Mrs.
ClutterhadtraveledtoWichitafortwoweeksoftreatmentandstayedtwomonths.Ontheadvice
ofadoctor,whohadthoughttheexperiencewouldaidhertoregain"asenseofadequacyand
usefulness,"shehadtakenajobasafileclerkattheY.W.C.A.IbelieveCapotechoosesto
involvethisquotebecausehewantstogiveanexampleforeachfemalecharacterin
InCold
Blood.
EventhoughHerbsupportshiswifeandherstate,therestillremainsanexpectation,that
Bonniecouldworkagain.

Capotegivesanotherexamplebygivinghisfemalecharactersanexpectedamountof
womanness,especiallywhenheintroducesMrs.Johnsontothereaders.BarbaraJohnsonis
Perryssister,shelivesinSanFrancisco,ismarried,andhasadifficultrelationshipwithPerry.


AidanJones
5/25/16

Sheisdrawnouttobemoreofatypicalmarriedwoman,shehasthreekids,worksfromhome,
andishappilymarried.Herlinesmakeherfeeloutgoingandyouthful,whileheractionsmake
herseemmoreasanitem,thanofawoman.Herdialogueisnotlong,buttheaudienceisableto
seewhereCapoteiscomingfrombyexplainingherwitheverylittleattribute.

TrumanCapoteintroducesRichardDickHickockandPerrySmithasmacho
murderermen,howeverasyouprogressfurtherinto
InColdBlood
readerscanseethe
femininityinthesetwomens.WhenDickaddressestoPerryashoney,sugar,orbabyyou
getabetterfeelforthefemininetraitsSmithmighthave.Capotealsodescribesthetwoas
selfimageconsciouscharacters,especiallygivingPerrySmithamoresensitivefeel.

Perryisveryconsciousofhowheisseenbyothers.Thepsychiatristhespeaksto
describeshimasoverlysensitivetocriticismsthatothersmakeofhim,andcannottolerate
beingmadefunof.(p.297).ThefactthatCapotepurposelyincludesthisinhisnovelmakesit
seemtohaverelevancethroughouttheentirestory,asarecurringidea.Feminismiskeywhenit
comestocharacterdesign.

IbelieveTrumanCapotepurposelyportrayshischaractersinsuchcontradictingwayson
purpose,togivethereaderroomtothink.ShowingBonnieasafrail,olderwoman,whorelieson
herfamily,andHerbasafeminine,piemaking,neatfreak,Trumantriestodemonstratejusthow
flippedthehouseroleswere.Dickisweddedtohisfirstwife,andhedreamsofbecoming
selfsufficientandtohavetheabilitytosupportherandtheirthreesons.Thisshowsthateven


AidanJones
5/25/16

DickHickock,inhismachoself,showsloveandcaretowardshisfamilyoutsideofbeinga
murderer.Capoteusesfeminismtofurtherstrengthenthecharacteristicsofhisprotagonistsand
antagonists.

Eventhoughfeminismcomeinallliterarypieces,Capotegoesoutofhiswaystoshow
examplesofitinhischaracters.Bygivinghischaractersthesetraits,theybecomeeasytorelate
withandtheysuddenlybecomereality.

WorksCited
http://www.gradesaver.com/incoldblood/studyguide/themes
http://www.shmoop.com/incoldblood/perrysmith.html