88 pages 2 hours read

Truman Capote

In Cold Blood

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1965

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Essay Questions

Use these essay questions as writing and critical thinking exercises for all levels of writers, and to build their literary analysis skills by requiring textual references throughout the essay. 

Scaffolded/Short-Answer Essay Questions

Student Prompt: Write a short (1-3 paragraph) response using one of the below bulleted outlines. Cite details from the novel over the course of your response that serve as examples and support.

1. Consider the different visions of paradise the novel presents (the yellow bird, the fruit orchard, Dewey’s dream house, Holcomb itself, etc.).

  • What sorts of images or ideas does In Cold Blood associate with paradise? (topic sentence)
  • Choose two symbols or motifs associated with paradise. Compare and contrast the way these symbols or motifs function in the text, considering the connotations of each, their meaning to the novel’s characters, and/or the way they develop over the course of the narrative.
  • Finally, use your concluding sentence or sentences to state what In Cold Blood might be saying about the nature of paradise, including (if relevant) how it intersects with themes like the American Dream or mortality.

2. Consider the final scene in the novel (Dewey’s meeting with Sue Kidwell), which Capote allegedly fabricated.

  • How does the inclusion of this fictional scene contribute to the meaning of the text as a whole? (topic sentence)
  • Identify three passages from or relating to this scene and analyze their significance in light of your claim.