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Narrator Attitude in Crime Books - Book Report/Review Example

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In Cold Blood, All the President's Men and Midnight in the Garden of Good of Evil all deal with real life crimes. Each of the authors takes a different approach to point of view and that perspective relies in great part upon their unique relationships to the setting in which the books take place…
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Download file to see previous pages Six years later what Truman Capote produced was a revolutionary new book titled In Cold Blood. Capote's intention was to create a new literary genre that told a true story, but read like a novel. In Cold Blood is a reconstruction of the gruesome murders of several members of the Clutter family, written closer to the form of a novel of realism than an example of a journalistic book like All the President's Men. While both Capote's and Berendt's book deal provisionally with a murder that totally grips their towns, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil differs substantially in that the murder is but the central connecting tile in a much larger mosaic that attempts to portray a milieu in which a steady stream of increasingly eccentric characters play a vital part. One might well suggest that the most important character in the book isn't Jim Williams, but rather the city of Savannah, the description of which-"this is a town where gentlemen own their own white tie and tails"-might at first seem insulting, but is clearly meant as a tribute to the distinctiveness of its citizens. By contrast, the small Kansas town of Holcomb of In Cold Blood is portrayed almost as if it hadn't changed since the dust bowl days of the Depression. Where Berendt makes Savannah seem as peculiar as its residents, Capote is much more sentimental, using such imagery as "the well-loved piece of prairie where he had always hoped to build a house". Contrasting with both of these depictions of setting is Woodward and Bernstein's Washington, DC. As with the rest of the narrative style of this book, the nation's power center is presented straightforwardly enough, but with a sinister overtone that the shadows of its tall monuments and gleaming federal structures contain unknown depths of suspicious activity. The cities in which the crimes that these three books take place are an important element in determining the attitude of the authors. Each of the locales is wildly different in time and place. The small Kansas farm town that Capote writes about is almost a portrait of the very model of a taciturn community where nobody goes out of their way to appear unique and as a result Capote writes in a bare, stripped-down style. Berendt's Savannah is the exact opposite; a city that revels in its offbeat people and the narrative reflects that wide-open style. Washington, D.C. is a city notorious for presenting an austere monochromatic front that suggests strength and dependability that hides the colorful corruption taking place.
The time and locale of these books are important elements in determining the narrators' attitudes toward their character, but equally important is the relationship of the authors to those settings. For instance, on the surface Truman Capote appears to be one of the unlikeliest authors of the period to successfully use a novelistic approach that attempts to psychologically penetrate the minds of both the victims and killers in an isolated Midwest town. At the time, Capote was already famous not just for his writings but for his flamboyantly homosexual life style. He couldn't have been more removed from the humble townsfolk of Holcomb, or the sociopathic alienation of the killers. Before he became famous, however, Capote lived in a tiny southern hamlet that likely shared much in common with Holcomb, so his connection with that kind of life ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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