Symbols and Themes

Perry's Memorabilia
Even though there’s a possibility of the book not containing any real symbols because it is something that really happened, Truman Capote stresses the fact that Perry carries his memorabilia around everywhere and even has it waiting in the places he might visit again. Perry carries these old books, journal, letters, and other valuables across the country with him as both he and Dick Hitchcock flee the Kansas police. Perry’s memorabilia is somewhat misleading though. He carries his past everywhere with him, but from what I understand, he despised his childhood. His memorabilia could represent how he never wants to have to go back home to retrieve it.

When Perry and Dick finally get captured and stay in the “county” jail during the times of the trials and tests, he stays in a cell off the kitchen (usually where women were held). (Note: the fact that the women stay in a cell by the kitchen could also play a role in mapping out the time period for us. During that time period the rights between women and men were not yet equal. Therefore, women were habitually were related to “the kitchen”.). When Perry stays in that cell separate from Dick, as the detectives had insisted, he gains friendship with a squirrel from outside his cell window. It is also in this stay in his cell where the audience realizes that Perry actually has no friends for when Perry is building this friendship with the squirrel; Dick is planning an escape without him. Perry has no friends or family to even visit him while he is both at the cell and in the corner. The only “human” friend that comes to visits him is a distant accomplice from the military. When he visits, Perry makes sure to make sure to keep his cell clean and tidy, only serving the best dinner. This excitement for friend shows us that he may not have people visit him intentionally before. The squirrel represents the one friend that Perry did and will always have for the squirrel came back time after time to be in the company of Perry: without judgments of his character. He liked Perry for what he appeared to be to him then: kind. The squirrel represents “real” friendship the book displays involving Perry. 

The weather is somewhat deeply described at the beginning or end of each part signifying the beginning or end of an important event. The weather plays the role of a “real life” symbol, something that happens normally, but in context seems to represent something of an entirely different significance. (I.e. like rain on a wedding day could mean good luck). The weather in the book seems to appear shiny and bright and shining throughout the window the day the Clutters are found murdered in their Holcomb home. What is significant about this is that the day Dick and Perry are brought to Kansas before their trial, the storm had seem to have ended and the sun had come out, just like the day the Clutters were found. This connects the two events closely and also represents a long time passed since then. The weather symbolizes the closing and opening of certain chapters in the Clutter case.