Study Guide

In Cold Blood Women and Femininity

By Truman Capote

Women and Femininity

Women in 1950s Holcomb were subject to the same sex-role constraints and expectations as men—they were traditionally homemakers and mothers. But many of the women in In Cold Blood seem to have freedom to pursue their careers in addition to their household responsibilities. Marie Dewey seems to be the June Cleaver—the model housewife—of the story. She makes sure her house is spotless and welcoming for Alvin when he comes home from his stressful days at work on the murder investigation, but she also has a job and shares the chores with her husband (2.92). Bonnie Clutter feels like a failure because she can't perform her wifely and parental duties because of her illness.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. How do you think that, as a woman, Harper Lee's presence may have made it easier for Capote to be accepted into Holcomb society?
  2. Do Dick and Perry have the same view of women as the men in Holcomb do?
  3. Would men or women object more to a female mayor in 1959 Garden City?
  4. Why do you think there were there no women on death row in Kansas in 1959?

Chew on This

As much as she wants to please and obey her father, Nancy Clutter would have eventually married Bobby Rupp despite her father's objections. After all, the 60s are just around the corner.

Mrs. Meier is the ideal woman in the book—industrious, a great cook, not afraid of the prisoners, and unconditionally loving.