Water Works By Doctrorow And In Cold Blood By Capote

In E.L Doctrorow’s novel, The Waterworks, Mr McIlvaine suggests that some
stories were, “not... reportorially possible... that there are limits to words
in a newspaper” (page 201). The character Mr McIlvaine like Truman Capote the
author of In Cold Blood are both journalists who have found stories to which
they feel newsprint, in itself would not have brought justice. Therefore to what
extent has truth in narration, and truth through journalism influenced the
writing of the novels of In Cold Blood and The Waterworks? Truth is hard to
define, the Collins English Dictionary(1992) defines truth as, “state of being
true”, and true as, “in accordance with the facts, exact, correct.” If we
are to strip something down to it’s bear essentials like a newspaper
‘headline’ we would hear that, ‘CLUES ARE FEW IN SLAYING OF 4 (Page 97, In
Cold Bold) ” or in the case of The Waterworks: ‘Telegram freelance reporter
gone missing after allegedly seeing dead father’. These headlines although
truthful do not tell the whole truth, so in away they misrepresent the real
truth. In trying to find the ‘truth’ both authors take different approaches.
In Cold Blood is written in the voice of an omniscient narrator. “Capote was
drawn to the Clutter killings by reading a headline in a newspaper of a killing
in Holcomb, Kansas of four family members” (Stephen Harris December 1999) and
wanted to find out more than what could be transmitted through news media, he
wanted to really investigate talk to the people and find the truth. Capote
rarely alludes the reader to himself, and the investigative lengths he went to,
to get the story. Capote is able to go into such detail due to these
investigations. We are told in the, “Acknowledgments”, that, “All the
material in this book not derived from my own observation is either taken from
official records or is the result of interviews with the persons directly
concerned” (Page 9). In Cold Blood is told as a life narrative not as a
traditional factual account. Capote has added depth by using the narrator and
realistic imagery as a filler between real factual evidence, documents,
newspaper articles and interviews. The Waterworks is a fictional novel. Doctorow
uses the character McIlvaine, a newspaper Editor of the New York Telegraph, to
tell the story through the technique of realistic reportage of Martain
Pemberton’s disappearance, Martian Pemberton’s fathers reappearance and a
greater social evil. McIlvaine is always questioning his journalistic morals, he
defines journalism as, “the cheapest commonest realm, the realm of newsprint.
My realm.(Page 8). MacIlvine constantly questions his own objectiveness towards
the story of the Pemberton family, “Did that mean I found myself prepared to
put the interest of the story ahead of the lives of the people involved in
it?” (Page 200),. The conflict within McIlvaine seems true but there is no
real conflict as this is a work of fiction. When McIlvaine puts himself across
as a credible narrator the reader is able to better accept the rest of the story
he is telling. Despite this in The Waterworks there are many devices used to
make the book seem real or truthful. These will be explained latter. Did Capote
(a journalist himself), have the same moral struggle when writing the work In
Cold Blood as McIlvaine had in The Waterworks? The text never alerts the
audience to any struggle of journalistic duty between the truth and the rights
of the victims and the offenders, but there are areas in which one could argue
there was such conflict. Capote edited out certain parts of Dick Hitckock’s
letter in which, “ Hickock revealed his pedophiliac tendencies,”(Page 278).
Capote had obviously in this instance decided that the rights of Hickok’s
victims were more important than the publics right to know. whether Capote was
forced to edit out these parts of the book we will never know, because of the
style of narration Capote has chosen, but the greater question is, Has anything
else been left out because of it’s sensitive nature? Stories, which are often
as complex as the people who write them, can be altered in many ways, such as
how the writer was feeling at the time and if they felt sympathetic towards the
person or people in question. McIlvaine explains how a journalist constructs an
opinion for a reader without them realising: they (reporters) “did not make
such a sanctimonious thing of objectivity, which is finally a way of
constructing an opinion for the reader without letting him now you are”(Page
27), McIlvaine also comments on his