Study Guide

In Cold Blood Religion

By Truman Capote


Holcomb and surrounding towns may have been ethnically diverse, but as far as religion is concerned, they look very homogeneous—100% Christian. But as we learn from In Cold Blood, the townsfolk might disagree. After all, this is a place where a marriage between a Methodist and a Catholic would be considered an interfaith marriage—and unthinkable, according to Herb Clutter. The residents of Finney County, where Holcomb and Garden City are located, are a devout, God-fearing bunch. This is Bible Belt country. Early on, Clarence Ewalt is outed as a non-churchgoer, but he brings his daughter Nancy to the Clutters' every Sunday to go to church with them. The church was part of the social life of the town, not just the spiritual life.

Questions About Religion

  1. Why is Mr. Clutter so adamant that it's out of the question for Nancy to marry a Catholic? Is that religious intolerance?
  2. Do you think Capote means to convey that religious faith is what makes people do the right thing?
  3. Would the people of Holcomb be accepting of a Jewish or Muslim neighbor? How about an atheist?
  4. Why is Don Cullivan so intent on saving Perry's soul?

Chew on This

In the story as recounted by Capote, we can make a reasonable generalization that all the good guys are believers; the bad guys are not.

Even when they're facing death, Perry and Dick are indifferent to the idea of God, salvation, etc. We'd think most people ponder this when they know they're about to take a ride on the "Big Swing."