Breakfast at Tiffany's

What attracts Holly and the narrator to one another?

What are there similarities and differences?

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The psychological struggle between the need for stability and the desire for freedom is perhaps the central concern of Breakfast at Tiffany's. The conflict structures the relationship between the narrator and Holly, who are opposing forces. While the narrator is happy to have his first home, Holly is consumed by her need to constantly escape from places, people and things. Even Holly's identity is in a constant state of flux. Holly assumes the name "Holiday Golightly", which encapsulates her strategy of avoiding stability by making a holiday out of life, and abandoning relationships and responsibilities when they threaten to jeopardize her freedom. For Holly, the distinction between stability and freedom is articulated by two of the novella's major symbols: animals (including Holly's cat) and Tiffany's (in which Holly feels properly "at home"). Holly despises the caging of animals, and refuses to name her cat. As a "wild thing", she feels he doesn't "belong" to her. Her fantasy that one day she will have, "breakfast at Tiffany's," an absurdity since Tiffany's does not serve food, indicates her choice to avoid stability by casting it in the unattainable ideals of fantasy.

By casting the two main characters on opposite sides of the stability/freedom divide, Capote suggests that each has something to learn from the other. The mutual influence of the two friends is demonstrated by their Christmas gift exchange, in which Holly gives the narrator a bird cage and the narrator gives her a medal of St. Christopher. Each gift illustrates a median between stability and freedom: Holly's gift is a cage, but it will never imprison a bird, and the narrator's gift is a medal of the patron saint of travel, but it comes from Tiffany's, Holly's personal symbol of home. By the conclusion of Breakfast at Tiffany's, it is clear that this influence has, at least in part, been realized: Holly confesses her sense of "belonging" with her cat, and the narrator reveals that, since the conclusion of their friendship, he has enjoyed lengthy trips around the world.

While Holly and the narrator represent different psychological impulses toward stability and freedom, Breakfast at Tiffany's suggests that both characters' pathologies stem from the sense of social exclusion common to people whose lifestyles do not conform to American convention. Indeed, both characters are consumed with a sense that they do not belong or are not "at home" in the larger world. The narrator feels a constant outsider, his nose pressed against a glass, and Holly is convinced that she is a "wild thing", unsuited to a proper place in society. Thus, Holly and the narrator are similar insofar as for both of them, "home" has become a charged object of fantasy and longing.