literary analysis | Truman Capote: Miriam

literary analysis | Truman Capote: Miriam

Truman Capote was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on September 30, 1924. From a humble family, he had a lonely childhood because of his parents’ divorce on a farm in the southern United States. At an early age, he began to write to escape the boredom and loneliness caused by his parents’ lack of attention. When he was 18, he got a job at the New York Times, which Truman said consisted of “selecting and cutting out comic strips from newspapers. After a few years, he decided to quit his job in order to start publishing his works. The first of them was Miriam (which we will talk about in this article), with this story she managed to capture the attention of the critics, publish in an important magazine and win the O. Henry prize.

After his initial success, he continued publishing his works. His evolution leads him to mix his passion for journalism and literature, being one of the pioneers in the novel non-fiction genre and precursor of New American Journalism. His mysterious, introspective and gothic style reminds us of a Poe, but more contemporary and profound in the psychology of his characters.

He dies in Los Angeles, California, on August 25, 1984, after losing his fight against liver cancer.


Miriam is Truman Capote’s first known tale. It was published by Madmoiselle Magazine and drew applause from the public. Labelled by the critics as “El Poe joven”, it creates a dark, introspective and very dense atmosphere where it develops the psychological description of its characters.

The Story tells the story of a widow who sees her boring everyday life interrupted by a mysterious girl who wants to stay and live with her. He meets her one night at the door of the cinema, then mysteriously appears on the door of her house, and then wants to stay there permanently.

The first paragraph of the story serves perfectly to draw a cloudy atmosphere, with a light but dark snow that prevents us from even imagining what the next paragraph might look like. After perfectly describing the widow and her life full of unbreakable habits, she proceeds to give life to the narrative action; this is only interrupted by small descriptions of the environment surrounding the plot, and mental states of the characters.

It is not clear from the outset what is happening. The author releases the missing pieces grain by grain in order to construct a context that the reader can use to make sense of the plot. This way of writing keeps the reader glued to the lines, paragraph by paragraph devours the text in search of meanings in a story that as time goes by begins to move in a magical, fictitious and even fantasy environment. The reader, deceived, falsely believes that he knows where he stands and what kind of reading he faces; but soon the realism of the descriptions clashes with what was expected, managing to keep the reader in doubt. In the end, that doubt turns into fear, suspense, a kind of asphyxiation for lack of control over the future. To paraphrase a little the literary criticism of her time… a sentiment well known to those who read Poe.

Miriam is a wonderful story, short and ideal before bedtime. The various possible interpretations will accompany you in bed preventing you from sleeping. A 100% recommended text.

If you want to read it, click on the following link:


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Músico, flautista, arreglista y escritor. Since 1995. Caracas, Venezuela

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