Breakfast at Tiffany's, by Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote

As part of the novella challenge, I read Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote this weekend. The novella is quite short, only 85 pages in the version I read. Still, unraveling the intricacies of Holly Golightly would take up many more pages. For a critical analysis go here.

Holly is twenty years old. She has a somewhat questionable past in that, at fourteen, she married a much older Texan with a slew of children. She had a brief stint in Hollywood, and we find her living in New York, living off of tips she gets from men in bars. She makes a weekly pilgrimage to Sing Sing to deliver a “weather report” to a mafia boss named Sally Tomato. In the brief glimpse that we get of Holly Golightly’s life via the narrator, Holly has a cat. The cat, though, has no name.

“We just sort of took up by the river one day, we don’t belong to each other: he’s an independent, and so am I. I don’t want to own anything until I know I’ve found the place where me and things belong together. I’m not quite sure where that is just yet. But I know what it’s like.”

At the end of the story, Holly dumps the cat in a rainy alley and tells the driver to drive away. Before they get to the end of the block, she jumps out of the car and goes in search of the cat, to no avail.

“I’m very scared, Buster. Yes, at last. Because it could go on forever. Not knowing what’s yours until you’ve thrown it away. The mean reds, they’re nothing. The fat woman, she nothing. This, though: my mouth’s so dry, if my life depended on it I couldn’t spit.”

The narrator promises to go in search of the cat, and Holly continues on her way to the airport, out of the story. The narrator spends days looking for the cat and when he does, the cat has found a home. Perhaps Holly did too.

I loved this story. I love Holly Golightly. I love the way she describes her particular form of depression as the “mean reds.” I love that the only cure for a particularly bad case of the mean reds is a trip to Tiffany’s. I love how all of the characters in the book fall in love with Holly for different reasons and in different ways. (I also love the movie.) Mostly, I love the themes of the futility of taming a wild animal and of our life’s search for home.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote [rating:4]