Study Guide

In Cold Blood Men and Masculinity

By Truman Capote

Men and Masculinity

Well, it is 1959, and it is Bible-belt Kansas—the ultimate family-values setting. So we have to expect that there are some seriously traditional views about what it means to be a man in that society. In the case of Dick Hickock, we see a pretty warped version of hyper-masculinity: too much fighting and too much sex, as Randle P. McMurphy said (although he didn't say "sex"). Far be it from Shmoop to tell y'all what a real man is. We're just giving you In Cold Blood: Capote's snapshot of a place and time. But to be fair, there were some guys who refused to be stereotyped.

Questions About Men and Masculinity

  1. What is it about rural areas that seems to make them more traditional in their values?
  2. Do you think it's surprising that Capote was eventually so well-accepted by the locals?
  3. Would Kenyon and Nancy Clutter have grown up to have traditional families like their parents?
  4. What frees up Herb Clutter and Alvin Dewey to break some stereotypes of husbands?

Chew on This

Traditional sex roles create social harmony because everyone knows what's expected of them, just like Tevye says.

Traditional sex roles prevent people from achieving their potential and create bitterness and disharmony.