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Assignment Questions

Analysis of the Book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

3 page minimum- 2 sources: (1)In Cold Blood book by TrumanCapote (2) Washington Post database article on John Lee Malvo – the DC sniper.

This paper is about analyzing HOW the influence of In Cold Blood on our modern, popular understanding of the criminal mind as demonstrated in the mainstream media and on the internet, as well as WHY it has been so influential. Use the reading of In Cold Blood to draw paralells with modern society’s fascination with and modern media’s coverage of crime and criminals. Examine media and internet coverage of John Lee Malvo, (Washing Post database article as source) examining the way we try to “understand” him thru careful recounting of the criminals background (as Capote did when describing much of Perry’s childhood background). Find paralells bewtween In Cold Blood and your sources – does Capote‘s emphasis on Perry’s parents mirror later attempts to understand John Lee Malvo thru his parents, or lack thereof, for example?

Introduce paper by considering In Cold Blood and why Capote feels the need to probe the backgrounds of his criminal subjects. Does modern coverage of crime also harbor assumptions about criminals and whether they are born or made?

For the body of paper: Draw specifics from both In Cold Blood and your modern source to iilustrate your thesis. Analyze what you have found along the way…i.e. Do certain kinds of criminals fascinate us the most in terms of mass muderers, race, age, type of crime, background etc…Why is our society so intent on understanding criminals? Why are parents and home lives usually addressed? Do you find the reasoning used by journalists compelling and convincing, or is this the worst kind of “pop” Psychology?

For Conclusion: Have we come any closer to understanding the criminal mind? Is our society’s interest a sincere attempt to change things, or is a voyeuristic thrill just another type of entertainment? Remeber, you are not writing a research paper on a criminal. You are analyzing the How and Why of media influence..i.e. How does media use background & childhood to influence our understanding and WHY: Why does media show us? Why do we want to understand the background of criminals? Why does Capote‘s approach seem to be so popular??

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