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Analytical Essay - characterize Capote's view of Holcomb


bizkitgirlzc 29 / 2  
May 13, 2007   #1
Can someone please help me correct my essay and whether it meets the following assignment:

Write a well-organized essay in which you characterize Capote's view of Holcomb, Kansas and analyze how Capote conveys this view. Your analysis may consider such stylistic elements as diction, imagery, syntax, structure, tone, and selection of detail.

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The first thing that could come to one's mind when reading about the rundown Holcomb, Kansas is an old Cont Eastwood western movie with "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" theme song playing in the background. With its men with "high-heeled boots with pointed toes," Holcomb seems to have directly come out of a cowboy movie. Truman Capote's excerpt, "The Last to See Them Alive" from his book In Cold Blood, depicted exactly how the reader should be imagining this town to be - a small town in 'nowheresville,' Kansas.

"The Last to See Them Alive" talks about a small village in Kansas that is insignificant that even few Kansans know about it. From the beginning, it's evident that the narrator wants the reader to see Holcomb as a beat-up and torn-down town - just as if it were coming out of one of those cowboy movies. The narrator, who probably is Capote himself, is seeing this from a more refined and perhaps from even a more sophisticated perspective. This can be concluded by the tone that the narrator uses which is a condescending tone of sorts - "Holcomb, too, can bee seen from great distances. Not that there is much to see..." He has a sarcastic manner when talking about Holcomb. The narrator often uses quotation marks on certain words like when he expresses how the Holcomb School is a "consolidated" school. Like the rest of the town, it probably is not "consolidated."

He mentions how "other Kansans" call the town 'out there' and he describes the local accent as "barbed with a prairie twang"with"ranch-hand nasalness." Then he goes on to describe the town buildings such as the Holcomb Bank with a "flaking gold [sign] on a dirty window" and a "old stucco structure The diction is clear and by his word choice, he makes it evident that he wants the reader to see this town as broken, old, and insignificant. The imagery he produces only furthers this idea when he speaks of a "falling-apart post office" by a depot "with its peeling sulphur-colored paint" that "is equally melancholy." This place really is gloomy and the picture that comes to one's mind is this deserted like town that's dusty and deteriorating. He then end's his description with a new paragraph that begins with a "and that, really, is all." It has a powerful effect this small sentence. It starts with an "and" and it is short and concise. This sentence has conveyed what the narrator thinks about this town - small and unimportant. The effect of structuring the paragraph in this manner, starting it with that small sentence, has gotten the narrator's point across. With that one sentence he has dismissed Holcomb as being nothing exceptional.

The truth is that there is nothing special about this town and that's exactly the image he wants the reader to have in their head when they think 'Holcomb.' It is town that is so insignificant that it is not even worth mentioning. But he does. He mentions it and that makes all the difference. If Holcomb is not special and if it is not worth mentioning, then what is the purpose of talking about this town? This place is a boring place where nothing out of the norm ever happens. Capote's way of expressing just that is interesting in when looking at the syntax of this one particular sentence:

Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there.

He starts out the sentence mentioning all these things that in one way or another may cause excitement and ending it with "never stopped there." Out of all the things that could happen nothing of importance, of "drama," or that comes out of the ordinary, happens in this town.

The purpose of talking about Holcomb is to make sure the author understands how ordinary Holcomb is. And it is the fact that Holcomb is so ordinary that makes it extraordinary. It is the perfect setting for something of exception to occur and it is the reason why the narrator goes out of his way to talk about this lame town where "the inhabitants of the village...were satisfied...quite content to exist inside ordinary life..." He is setting up the stage for something big to happen where nothing of importance ever happens. Perhaps it should come to be the stage for a murder if the title gives us any clues. The purpose of all of this is to catch the reader by surprise or simply to make the story all the more intriguing. The audience is suppose to eat up the isolated, broken down, plain description of the town and then be staggered to find Holcomb to be the spotlight of an "exceptional happening."

Ultimately, this is a great opening to a story that might turn into something of suspense or a thriller. It establishes the perfect setting for something of that sort because it creates a mental image for the reader to follow throughout the story and then to have something thrown out at them which doesn't match this guideline makes the story all the more unpredictable and entices the reader to want to continue reading. Capote has done an excellent job in setting Holcomb as the ordinary town that no one knows about "until [that] one morning in mid-November of 1959." It is Holcomb's plainness that makes it famous.

EF_Team2 1 / 1,709  
May 14, 2007   #2
Greetings!

I think you've done a good job of analysis! I have just a few editing suggestions:

The first thing that comes to mind [instead of could come to one's mind] when reading about the rundown Holcomb, Kansas is an old Clint [not Cont] Eastwood western movie with "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" theme song playing in the background. -

a small village in Kansas that is so insignificant that even few Kansans know about it.

He then ends [no apostrophe] his description

The purpose of talking about Holcomb is to make sure the author understands how ordinary Holcomb is. - I think you meant make sure the reader understands.

Good job!

Thanks,

Sarah, EssayForum.com
Rajiv 55 / 400  
May 14, 2007   #3
Hello there bizkitgirlzc,

you have real ability and it's so to the point you have been asked to do.

I don't know why I get the impression you're in a bit of a hurry to get it over with, even though you must have enjoyed doing it. Just a picture I'll try and paint for you here; many, many years from now you will be sitting, writing, having discovered that as your true love, and, you may have to try hard to imagine this, but you will be getting all your life's sustenance, all that really keeps you up, from your writing. Consider that, you will want to look at what you are doing now, with even more respect.

hope nothing offensive said here.
EF_Team2 1 / 1,709  
May 15, 2007   #4
Then again, sometimes life just gets in the way of doing what you would like to do and you just have to make the best of it. ;-))

Sarah


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