teIn E. L Doctrorows novel, The Waterworks, Mr McIlvaine suggests that somestories were, not. . . reportorially possible.
. . that there are limits to wordsin a newspaper (page 201). The character Mr McIlvaine like Truman Capote theauthor of In Cold Blood are both journalists who have found stories to whichthey feel newsprint, in itself would not have brought justice. Therefore to whatextent has truth in narration, and truth through journalism influenced thewriting of the novels of In Cold Blood and The Waterworks? Truth is hard todefine, the Collins English Dictionary(1992) defines truth as, state of beingtrue, and true as, in accordance with the facts, exact, correct.
If weare to strip something down to its bear essentials like a newspaperheadline we would hear that, CLUES ARE FEW IN SLAYING OF 4 (Page 97, InCold Bold) or in the case of The Waterworks: Telegram freelance reportergone missing after allegedly seeing dead father. These headlines althoughtruthful do not tell the whole truth, so in away they misrepresent the realtruth. In trying to find the truth both authors take different approaches. In Cold Blood is written in the voice of an omniscient narrator. Capote wasdrawn to the Clutter killings by reading a headline in a newspaper of a killingin Holcomb, Kansas of four family members (Stephen Harris December 1999) andwanted to find out more than what could be transmitted through news media, hewanted to really investigate talk to the people and find the truth.
Capoterarely 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 theseinvestigations. We are told in the, Acknowledgments, that, All thematerial in this book not derived from my own observation is either taken fromofficial records or is the result of interviews with the persons directlyconcerned (Page 9). In Cold Blood is told as a life narrative not as atraditional factual account. Capote has added depth by using the narrator andrealistic imagery as a filler between real factual evidence, documents,newspaper articles and interviews. The Waterworks is a fictional novel.
Doctorowuses the character McIlvaine, a newspaper Editor of the New York Telegraph, totell the story through the technique of realistic reportage of MartainPembertons disappearance, Martian Pembertons fathers reappearance and agreater social evil. McIlvaine is always questioning his journalistic morals, hedefines journalism as, the cheapest commonest realm, the realm of newsprint. My realm. (Page 8). MacIlvine constantly questions his own objectiveness towardsthe story of the Pemberton family, Did that mean I found myself prepared toput the interest of the story ahead of the lives of the people involved init? (Page 200),.
The conflict within McIlvaine seems true but there is noreal conflict as this is a work of fiction. When McIlvaine puts himself acrossas a credible narrator the reader is able to better accept the rest of the storyhe is telling. Despite this in The Waterworks there are many devices used tomake 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 InCold Blood as McIlvaine had in The Waterworks? The text never alerts theaudience to any struggle of journalistic duty between the truth and the rightsof the victims and the offenders, but there are areas in which one could arguethere was such conflict. Capote edited out certain parts of Dick Hitckocksletter in which, Hickock revealed his pedophiliac tendencies,(Page 278). Capote had obviously in this instance decided that the rights of Hickoksvictims were more important than the publics right to know. whether Capote wasforced to edit out these parts of the book we will never know, because of thestyle of narration Capote has chosen, but the greater question is, Has anythingelse been left out because of its sensitive nature’stories, which are oftenas complex as the people who write them, can be altered in many ways, such ashow the writer was feeling at the time and if they felt sympathetic towards theperson or people in question. McIlvaine explains how a journalist constructs anopinion for a reader without them realising: they (reporters) did not makesuch a sanctimonious thing of objectivity, which is finally a way ofconstructing an opinion for the reader without letting him now .