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Analysis of Major Characters
Themes, Motifs, Symbols
Summary and Analysis
Important Quotations Explained
A brief decription of every character in the novel listed by when they are introduced.
Mr. Herb Clutter-
48, first rate condition, healthy, strong, faithful, father of Eveanna, Berverly, Nancy and Kenyon, husband of Bonnie, owner of River Valley Farm, victim of the Clutter slayings.
Mrs. Bonnie Clutter-
45, timid, pious, delicate, mother of Eveanna. Berverly, Nancy and Kenyon, wife of Mr. Clutter, has "little spells" and has been in and out of psychiatric wards, victim of the Clutter slayings.
16, "town darling", dating Bobby Rupp, "radiant jauntiness", has character, determined, hard-working, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clutter, victim of the Clutter slayings.
15, son of Mr. and Mrs. Clutter, inventor, sensitive, "stand-offish", quiet, lanky, awkward, victim of the Clutter slayings.
- eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clutter, married to Don Jarchow, lives in Illinois, mother of a ten month old named Tracy.
- second oldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. studying to be a nurse, engaged to a young biology student, Vere English.
Mr. Alfred Stoecklein
- the sole resident employee, Clutter's only neighbor, usually very quiet but seems rather talkative after the murders, has three children and is married.
- young, emotional, sentimental, artistic, short, rough childhood, very feminine, bipolar, has compassion and then goes into a very heartless mentality, murder of the Clutters.
- very masculine, conceited, lots of talk and no walk, literal, authentically tough, obsessed with girls and alcohol, assisted in the murders of the Clutters.
Mrs. Clarence Gatz
- mother of Jolene who Nancy teaches to bake a pie, admires Nancy a lot, wife of a farmer who lives near the highway.
Mr. Gerald Van Vleet
- one of the workers at River Valley Farm, Mr. Clutters "partner" and close friend to the family.
- 17, dependable, dating Nancy Clutter, "nice" boy with a good heart, truly in love with Nancy Clutter, the investigators first suspect.
- Nancy's best friend, been around the Clutters a very long time, knows the family and it's private issues very well, one of the girls who discover their bodies.
- the Clutter housekeeper, someone Bonnie can confide in,
Mr. Paul Helm
- late 50s, husband of the Clutter housekeeper, one of the hired men also, one of the last men to see Nancy and Kenyon Clutter alive, somber, curious and watchful.
Mrs. Hideo Ashidas
- japanese mother, fine, a very happy woman, chubby, bashful, simply loves Mr. Clutter, has four children, wife of a tenant farmer, part of the 4-H Club with the Clutters.
- best friend of Kenyon, son of local farmer Taylor Jones, dating a girl which has made Kenyon and him not very close anymore.
Perry's older, "brilliant" friend from one of the penitentiaries, the only reason Perry even came to Kansas, although Perry was never a man of faith he admired Willie (who was a very faithful man), always understood Perry and took the time to notice him genuinely.
- the insurance man, stocky, somewhat bald, informal, one of the last people to see Herb Clutter alive when he had him sign a very big life insurance policy.
- only child of Mr. Clarence Ewalt, delicate, film-figured, classmate of Nancy Clutter, gets dropped off at the Clutters to go to church with them every Sunday, discovers the Clutters dead bodies.
Mr. Clarence Ewalt
- middle-aged, father of Nancy Ewalt, sugar-beet farmer, not a churchgoer, one of the first to discover the Clutter bodies.
- 27, new to the area, poor dreamer with nowhere to go, english teacher and bus driver, married to Shirley Hendricks with three active children.
- the undersheriff of Holcomb, first discovers Kenyon and Mr. Clutters dead bodies, husband of Mrs. Meier, one daughter, big man with weight to spare, lived in the Sheriff's Residence which housed criminals.
- wife of the undersheriff, cooks for and helps watch over the criminals such as Perry Smith, begins to like Perry and see there is more to him then just a murderer.
Mrs. Sadie Truitt
- 75, "Mother Truitt", mail messenger, oldest native-born Holcombite, stocky, comfortable, mother of Mrs. Myrtle Clare, widowed
Mrs. Myrtle Clare
- unrevealed age, postmistress, gaunt, hard-hearted, "an admirer of logic", very opinionated, widowed, very bitter towards the world.
Mrs. Bess Hartman
- one of the owners of the Hartman Cafe, bright, authoritive, cousin of Mrs. Clare, very independent, "tough old bird".
one of Herb's closet friends, businessman, was his classmate at Kansas State University, modest but proud, gentle, hard worker, helped clean the Clutter's house after the murders.
Dr. J. E. Dale
- veterinarian, one of Herb's closet friends, helped clean the Clutter's house after the murders.
- a dairy owner, one of Herb Clutter's closet friends, helped clean the Clutter's house after the murders.
- businessman, close friend of Herb Clutter, helped clean the Clutter's house after the murders.
- 47, former Finney Sheriff, former agent of the F.B.I, took charge of the Clutter case, very dedicated and involved, does not rest until the murderers are found.
Mr. Harold Nye
- one of K.B.I.'s ablest investigators, also assigned to the Clutter case, young, on the spot, questions Dick.
Mr. Roy Church
- one of K.B.I.'s ablest investigators, also assigned to the Clutter case, questions Dick with Nye.
Mr. Clarence Duntz-
one of K.B.I.'s ablest investigators, also assigned to the Clutter case, patient professional, questions Perry with Dewey.
- rich, middle-aged German, hearty, Dick and Perry's friend in Mexico, a Hamburg lawyer, artist.
Jonathan Daniel Adrian-
middle 30s, found in the Clutter home after the murders, wild haired, dull-eyed, curious about the case but innocent.
Mr. Tex John Smith
- Perry's father, "Lonewolf", bossy but an honest man, cares for his children.
Mrs. Flo Buckskin
- beautiful Cherokee woman, Perry's mother, died from alcohol, drunkard, concieted, bad mom.
Mrs. Barbara Johnson
- Perry's only living sibling, ashamed of Perry's lifestyle, self supporting, the only good thing to come out of the Smith-Buckskin marriage.
- short, criminal in the Kansas Penitentiary, shared a cell with Dick, told Dick about the Clutters and gave him enough information to rob him, loved the Clutters, turns Dick and Perry in.
Mr. Walter Hickock
- Dick's father, loves his son, has faded, defeated eyes, quiet.
- plump woman with a soft, round face, Dick's mother, loves her son regardless.
- a friend and witness of Perry, young, indian logger and fisherman in Washington, housed Perry on and off for two years and Perry taught his children.
Fern- Joy Smith
- Perry's deceased sister, jumped out of a window before she was 20, easygoing, "everybody's sweetheart", drunkard like mother, men always let her down.
- Perry's deceased brother, married, shot himself after wife shot herself, was top of his class, hardworking, however imprisoned with jealousy.
Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Walker
- murdered, bound, gagged and shot along with their two children, killed in the same way the Clutters were, lived in Florida, Perry notices their murder in the paper and notes that it was very similar to theirs.
- a man who was in the army with Perry, writes Perry while he is in the Sheriff's Residence, one of Perry's witnesses.
Mr. Aurthur Flemming
- 71, assigned to be Perry's lawyer, former Garden City mayor.
Mr. Harrison Smith
- 45, golfer, tall, accepted with resigned grace to be Dick's lawyer.
Ronald H. Tate
- the judge of Perry and Dick's case.
- special assistant prosecuting attorney, an aggressive questioner, very prepared to take on the case.
N. K. Dunnan
- middle-aged airport employee, chosen for the jury, admits he is usually against capital punishment, however, not in this case.
Dr. W. Mitchell Jones
- the psychiatrist who agreed to examine Perry and Dick, found that both men have possible mental issues.
Mr. Earl Wilson
- husky negro, kidnapped and raped a white woman, left her alive but serverely disabled, shares Death Row with Perry and Dick.
Mr. Bobby Joe Spencer
- young, white man, murdered and elderly, white woman, stabbed another convict with a shiv, shared Death Row with Perry and Dick.
Mr. Lowell Lee Andrews
- 20, "Andy", enormous, honor student, murdered his parents and sister for no reason, feels no regret, shared Death Row with Perry and Dick.
George Ronald York-
18, soldier, killed seven people with Latham on a cross-country killing spree, shared Death Row with Perry and Dick.
James Douglas Latham
- 19, soldier, personable, killed seven people with York on a cross-country killing spree, shared Death Row with Perry and Dick.
- young Wichita attorney, investigating charges against Perry and Dick, later resigned.
Joseph D. Jenkins
- exceptionally skillful Kansas City lawyers, took over for Shutz.
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