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Jane Eyre July 30, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — charlottepierce13 @ 6:35 pm

The book, Jane Eyre, starts slowly, with a telling of Jane’s humble beginnings.  She is raised by her cruel Aunt Reed. By late childhood years, she is put into LowoodBoarding School for young women.  She undergoes hardships there-finding an immediate friend who soon dies and frequently and unfairly being named a liar.  Her brief friendship with Helen Burns brought out the best in Jane.


“I’ll stay with you dear Helen.  When I awoke it was day: an unusual movement roused me; I looked up; I was in somebody’s arms; the nurse held me; she was carrying me through the passage back to the dormitory.  I was not reprimanded for leaving my bed; people had something else to think about: no explanation was afforded then to my many questions; but a day or two afterwards I learned that Miss Temple, on returning to her own room at dawn, had found me laid in a little crib; my face against Helen Burn’s shoulder, my arms round her neck.  I was asleep, and Helen was-dead.”


Once Jane finally moves up in status and becomes a teacher at Thornfield Hall, she finds the world to be a much different place than before.  With her increase of power, people have more respect for her.  Men of great influence are interested in Jane, her Aunt Reed feels she owes it to Jane to apologize for how she treated her in the past and even goes on to admit Jane has an Uncle who she told that Jane was dead. This prominent Uncle winds up passing away but leaving her $20,000. 


Once Jane has made a name for herself, she cracks in a way.  I think she, like many people even today, are their best in the most difficult situations.  Rags to riches is a stark difference from riches to rags; Jane becomes more superficial and influenced by others.  It seems that she forgets her humble beginnings.  When you compare this to Mr Rochester, who becomes a more honest, appreciating man when he loses everything, especially his dignity-Jane’s response to her change in status is less admirable.


This book felt very “before it’s time.”  It included all genres and rarely touched topics-romance, mystery, horror, women’s roles, and adventure.  It feels as if Jane is the constant in a science experiment, where she is tested in every possible situation.  The mid 1800’s were tough times for women and so it is amazing to see her determination, strength, and power in each difficult phase of her life.


 “I would always rather be happy than dignified.”


 “Rochester: “Jane, be still; don’t struggle so like a wild, frantic bird, that is rending its own plumage in its desperation.”

Jane: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being, with an independent will; which I now exert to leave you.”


Narration July 10, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — charlottepierce13 @ 3:41 pm

The frequent switch of narrators provides the reader with a variety of emotions or reactions.  Just like Capote’s tone varies whether in Dick and Perry’s perspective or the Clutter’s perspective, the way he presents the characters is just the same.  For example, as Dewey the investigator questions Perry about his involvement in the murders he ends the interrogation session by mentioning that the next day would have been Nancy Clutter’s birthday and that she would have been seventeen.  This gets under Perry’s skin and he starts to question his ally and alibi.  Then the narration switches to Dick who is in a cell the floor below wondering how safe he is for the same reasons.  Once they are accused the way they respond differentiates who they really were and how different they were from each other.  When the murders occurred, it felt like they were a matched pair with the same thought processes and emotional responses.  Capote is able to describe Perry in a way that allows the reader to feel a little bit sorry for him-he had a rough childhood and shows he has a conscience.  Perry looked up to Dick and thought of him as a leader where as Dick takes no responsibility and ultimately accuses Perry of the whole crime.


Time Sequencing

Filed under: Uncategorized — charlottepierce13 @ 3:41 pm

The fact that Capote tells the story in many different time segments is maybe the most powerful device that Capote uses in In Cold Blood.   He foreshadows the events, then describes the events like a newspaper reporter and then adds the texture and detail through the interviews of the people involved once the murders have occurred.  The after the fact interview increases the intensity and makes the reader feel as if they are in the moment.  In addition to the sequencing of events, which builds the momentum, Capote describes simultaneously, what each of the people are doing, so you feel like you are hovering above, watching the events unfold, darting your eyes back and forth to each character.  The simultaneous time capture with the most power was the night of the murders.  Capote first describes Dick and Perry driving to Holcomb and their conversation in the car.  Next he describes what is happening in the Clutter house where Nancy is in her bedroom drying her hair and writing in her journal.  Capote ends this section with, “Presently, the car crept forward.”


Point of View

Filed under: Uncategorized — charlottepierce13 @ 3:40 pm

“This is it, this is it, this has to be it, there’s the school, there’s the garage, now we turn south.  The bank, that must be the bank, now we turn west-see the trees?  This is it, this has to be it.”


In this section, The Last To See Them Alive, the paragraph preceding this quote describes Nancy in her bedroom writing in her diary.  The imagined excitement Capote gives Dick and Perry when they find the Clutter’s house makes them all the scarier.  While we all know that Capote wasn’t there when this happened, the fact that he uses dialogue as if he were there makes the description all the more believable.  At this point in the account, Capote’s writing feels more like a novel than a piece of non fiction.


To have gotten an account of the murders from anyone else but the murderer’s perspective would have lessened the impact.  However, since he obviously enters the picture after the Clutter’s have been killed, Capote craftfully brings them to life by patching real events with imagined dialogue.


Historical and Cultural Descriptions

Filed under: Uncategorized — charlottepierce13 @ 3:37 pm

“Nancy and her protégée, Jolene Katz, were also satisfied with their morning’s work.  For the longest while she stared at the blue ribbon winner, the oven hot cherries simmering under the crisp lattice crust, and then she was overcome, and hugging Nancy, asked, Honest, did I really make it myself?  Nancy laughed, returned the embrace, and assured her that she had-with a little help.”


The historical and cultural descriptions of rural life in the late 1950’s show the trust and innocence, but also the vulnerability of Kansas City.   This close knit community left their doors unlocked, knew their neighbors, and trusted strangers.  It is in this description that Truman Capote paints a picture of what life was like for the Clutter family.  The Clutter’s were a traditional family where the father worked, the mother stayed at home, and they had two children.  They lived healthy lives, looking down on drinking and smoking, and were law abiding people.  This description of baking pies embodies this simple, innocent life that Capote leaves you with as he builds the suspense for what is about to happen.


Nancy Clutter is perhaps the most tragic member of the Clutter family to be killed because she couldn’t imagine or understand in her innocent mind what Dick or Perry were about to do to their family.  I think Capote spotlighted Nancy, rather than her mom or her brother because of her innocence and sweetness in comparison to the criminals she will face.  His writing makes her human and not just a newspaper report.



Filed under: Uncategorized — charlottepierce13 @ 3:36 pm

A large part of In Cold Blood includes Capote’s description of the landscape, the town, and the people in it. Since In Cold Blood is non fiction, all the people involved must be described as is but it is the way in which Capote applies details with his characterization that gives a true sense for who the people are.


“The master of River Valley Farm, Herbert William Clutter, was forty eight years old, and as a result of a recent medical examination for an insurance policy, knew himself to be in first rate condition.  Though he wore rimless glasses and was of but average height, standing just under five feet ten, Mr Clutter cut a man’s man figure.  His shoulders were broad, his hair had held its dark color, his square jawed, confident face retained a healthy hued youthfulness, and his teeth, unstained and strong enough to shatter walnuts, were still intact…”


“Sitting, he had seemed a more than normal sized man, a powerful man, with the shoulders, the arms, the thick, crouching torso of a weight lifter-weight lifting was, in fact, his hobby.  But some sections of him were not in proportion to others.  His tiny feet, encased in short black boots with steel buckles, would have neatly fitted into a taller than twelve year old child, and suddenly looked, strutting on stunted legs that seemed grotesquely inadequate to the grown up bulk they supported, not like a well built truck driver but like a retired jockey, overblown and muscle bound.”


The image created of Herb Clutter is calming and likeable and of someone you might already know.  If you saw him on the street, you would maybe notice him, maybe not because he would fit within your perspective on “normal”.  Perry, on the other hand, is described in ways that one might imagine looks like the average criminal. Capote’s word choice-stunted legs, grotesquely inadequate, bulk-all create a distaste in your mouth and raises the hair on your back.  You want to steer clear of him.  Although both are described as they were in reality, Perry’s menacing physical status creates the tension of the event when compared to the “upstanding Herb Clutter” and his death seems all the more upsetting.