Demolishing Generic Borderlines in Truman Capote’s Handcarved Coffins: A ‘Missionary Role’ of Generic Assimilation

Meriem Bchir


A short novel amongst Music for Chameleons, Truman Capote’s Handcarved Coffins: A nonfiction Account of an American Crime appears to be categorized as a literary work of nonfiction, accorded the form of literary reportage. This article, however, tends to divert such a classification towards unveiling the adoption of different generic forms and styles that Capote incorporates in his work.

The study of Capote’s strategy of adapting and merging generic codes in Handcarved coffins, is based on his prevalent use of intertextuality on the level of format and content, and the adoption of fictional techniques like symbolism and symbolic characterization in a supposedly reporting-based factual account.

It is thus, through demolishing generic classifications and through the implied symbolic representation in the story that Capote’s missionary role of generic assimilation renders him a ‘Savior’ of literary writing by establishing a ‘true art’ where an amalgamation of styles voices the author’s implied criticism to the symbolically deciphered prevailing facets of his community. 


demolishing, adaptation, adoption, assimilation, merging, art.

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