Let’s Talk: Breakfast At Tiffany’s


Granted this will be a one sided conversation but a conversation nonetheless – basically you get to hear my opinion and then if you have any opinions that’d be cool, and then you can write a comment which would be even cooler, and then I’ll respond because I like chatting with people and then EVERYTHING WILL BE COOL!

So here’s the good news for you, I don’t know if you’ve read Tiffanie’s take on B@T (if you haven’t you might want to cause why the fuck not? It’ll only take you like 2 minutes), but I completely disagree with Tiffanie’s opinion. Our posts last month on The Shining were practically the same so that might have been a bit boring to read but don’t you worry because I am here to say something completely different.

Ok let’s remember that the book came first – before the movie. So to point out some differences – just so you know. Holly is like some high-end escort in the book whereas in the film, Audrey Hepburn didn’t want to be associated with any of that making it incredibly subtle in the movie. The role of the narrator is actually supposed to be kind-of, sort-of about Capote so just keep that in mind. Another fact: Capote actually wrote the character of Holly for Marilyn Monroe and thought that Audrey Hepburn was miscast. “Paul” in the movie is actually nameless in the novel, our nameless narrator is also the first person we meet in the narrative while in the film, and the first character we meet is Holly.  There are many more differences and I encourage you to compare the two but those are just a few.

Now for the book I think it’s absolutely wonderful. I should probably say that my favorite book is In Cold Blood by Capote so I’m a bit biased but the prose, nonetheless, are amazing. I just love his little quips about characters like when describing Holly he says, “she had an almost breakfast-cereal air of health, a soap and lemon cleanliness..” He doesn’t just say that Holly had an air of innocence and that she is clean – he lets you visualize it, smell it, associate it, and lets you come up with your own conclusions. Here is another amazing description that he does because you how can you even get enough of them, “in that itchy, particular red velvet that one associates with hot days on a train.” Seriously, just read that again! He doesn’t tell you what he wants you to feel – he shows you and makes you associate with it. It almost reminds me of Fitzgerald in Gatsby when he describes the green leather seats – that imagery is in this story and it’s so wonderfully done.

Also look at what Capote does with his characters. So he names Holly – “Holly Golightly” (that’s not her real name by the way) but because this isn’t Holly’s real name, she says in the book that she picked it herself which creates a whole other level to her character. So you have Capote who names Holly initially as Lulamae Barnes, then he changes her name to “Holly Golightly” but Capote adds an extra level when he mentions that it was actually Holly who picked her new name – this gives her agency, which entitles a character to think why did Holly pick this name instead of why did the author pick this name. Naming is so interesting in this story – look at the narrator who is nameless until Holly supplies him with the name of her brother “Fred” but then she takes the name back when her actual brother, Fred, dies in the war. When she stops calling the narrator ‘Fred’ she doesn’t give him another name – she just resorts to calling him “bucko” or “buddy”. Her cat is nameless as well and here she actually tells our narrator that she doesn’t feel like she should name him because he doesn’t belong to her. So you can see how crucial naming is to this book: Holly doesn’t name the cat because he doesn’t belong to her, she names our narrator ‘Fred’ but then takes it back when her brother dies, by not renaming him she is letting him go, lastly, she names herself ‘Holly Golightly’ as a way to emphasize how she goes about in this world: she goes lightly (Golightly) <- do you see the meanings there?

Although there are many other wonderful aspects of the novel I would just like to touch on one more before I leave you to it; Capote teaches the readers how to read Holly in a non intrusive way. Ok so I’m going to use page numbers which might be irrelevant to you but bear with me; on pages 18-19 Capote writes, “She looked at me blankly, and rubbed her nose, as though it tickled: a gesture, seeing often repeated, I came to recognize as a signal that one was trespassing.” So Capote gives you this gesture, explains it and then leaves it alone. On pages 48, 77, and 89 he repeats the fact that Holly rubbed her nose but that’s all he says, “She rubbed her nose, and concentrated on the ceiling” (89). He already told you how to read that gesture on page 18, so if you remember it you now have insight into Holly throughout the rest of the novel without anything needing to be said. It’s Brilliant!

If you read the story you will find a plenty more aspects to pick out of the narrative, this is only just a few. Obviously, I really enjoyed this book, one of my favorite reads, it was fun and sad and humorous and a really well told series of events. There is one thing I will agree with Tiffanie on, my copy has an excerpt from the Guardian that says, “The most romantic story ever written” – it doesn’t even say one of just plain out THE MOST. I wouldn’t agree at all – this was not a romance story in my opinion, a great story, just not a romantic one.


– Miranda


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