The reader is never informed of the name of the narrator and protagonist, whom Holly simple refers to as "Fred", because he looks like her brother. At the time of his friendship with Holly Golightly, he is a young writer struggling to make a name for himself in New York City. The reader learns little of his life apart from his adventures with Holly, which enhances his identity as a private "outsider" who, as Holly relates, "wants awfully to be on the inside staring out." An implied homosexual, the narrator later becomes a literary success and world-wide traveler.
The main character of the novella. At the time the narrator meets her, she is eighteen years old, thin, and has unconventionally short, boyish hair. A child bride who escaped her impoverished Texas roots at the age of fourteen, Holly makes a living as a companion to various wealthy and important men, who lavish her with money and expensive presents. As her name suggests, she is flighty and unstable. With the aid of the narrator, Holly escapes New York after she has been arrested for conspiracy with a Mafia-backed narcotics ring, and begins a new life in South America.
The owner of a bar located around the corner from the apartment building in which the narrator and Holly Golightly lived. He appears to be a homosexual, and prefers pursuing esoteric interests in dogs, radio soap operas, and Gilbert and Sullivan, over social interaction. Fascinated with Holly, he helps her flee the authorities following her arrest, despite his initial reluctance to get involved in the escape. He passes along a photo of an African carving that resembles Holly to the narrator twelve years after he had last seen her.
Another tenant in the brownstone apartment building in which the narrator and Holly live. A photographer for a popular picture magazine, it is implied that Yunioshi is attracted to Holly. To placate Yunioshi when he is upset at her for ringing his doorbell late at night when she has lost her key, Holly suggests she will let him take compromising photos of her. On a trip through Africa, when Yunioshi discovers an African man who has a carving that resembles Holly, he tries to buy it for a large amount of money and goods. Yunioshi also photographs the model Mag Wildwood for a major magazine shoot.
The man that Yunioshi encounters in Tococul, Africa, who has completed a carving that resembles Holly. The African refuses to sell the carving to Yunioshi, claiming that it is a representation of a young white woman who unexpectedly visited his village earlier that year. He implies that he had an affair with this woman, who later departed just as suddenly as she had arrived.
Often referred to by the narrator as "Madame Spanella". Another tenant in the brownstone occupied by the narrator and Holly, a "coloratura", or soprano, who enjoys regular roller-skating. Spanella often calls Holly a whore, and brings an eviction petition against her. Later, Spanella directs the authorities to Holly when they are seeking to arrest her. "Sapphia" is a variation on the word Sapphic, a common euphemism for lesbian. Despite what her name implies, Spanella appears to be a misogynist, accepting the same disruptive behavior in Quaintance Smith that she despised in Holly.
The man who accompanies Holly to her apartment door the night the narrator first sees her. He is upset that Holly won't let him come into her apartment and that she calls him "Harry". Holly explains to Sid that he should have given her more than twenty cents when she asked for change for the powder-room.
Holly's pet, a striped orange tom cat she picked up at the river whom she refuses to name. On the day of her escape from New York, Holly drops him off on the corner of a Spanish Harlem street, which she later regrets. The narrator promises to search for "cat" after she has left, and later finds him behind the window of a cozy Spanish Harlem home.
Holly's beloved brother, who does not appear in the narrative action. Holly describes him as "sweet", "vague", "slow", and over six feet tall, a height she attributes to his affection for peanut butter. Holly calls the narrator "Fred", as he reminds her of her brother. A soldier in the U.S. military, Fred is killed in overseas action halfway through the novella, a tragedy that causes Holly great grief. After he dies, Holly never mentions her brother again, and stops calling the narrator "Fred".
Salvatore "Sally" Tomato
A major figure in the New York mafia incarcerated in Sing Sing prison on racketeering charges, and with whom Holly gets involved in a major drug scandal. Pretending that she is Sally's niece, Holly pays him regular visits, for which she earns $100 per week. At her visits, Sally gives Holly "the weather report" - statements encoded as information about the weather - which she then repeats to his lawyer O'Shaughnessy. Sally warns Holly before she is arrested, and Holly defends him in her public statements to the press on the day of her arrest.
A defrocked priest and gangster also known as "Father" and "The Padre". He is Sally Tomato's main accomplice in the scandal involving Holly Golightly. Telling Holly he is Sally's lawyer, O'Shaughnessy arranges for Holly's visits to Sing Sing, and pays her weekly salary after Holly has given him "the weather report". An obese man who seems addicted to hamburgers, Holly meets him frequently at "Hamburg Heaven". He is arrested on the same day that Holly is.
Holly's former talent agent. The narrator meets him at one of Holly's parties, where he shares the story of his unsuccessful attempts to transform Holly, whom he calls a "real phony", from a teenage runaway to a Hollywood starlet. He later reads the narrator's writing, and is unimpressed by its emphasis on description and socially marginal characters, which he feels will not "sell" with a wide audience. When Holly is arrested, Berman hires her a top lawyer on the condition that his name not be connected with the scandal.
A much-publicized millionaire who is the companion of Holly, and, later, the husband of model Mag Wildwood. Rusty became tabloid fodder at a young age when his parents died, leaving him their fortune. His godfather was arrested on charges of sodomy. As an adult, Rusty continued the family tradition of scandal with his three tumultuous marriages, all ending in divorce. The narrator describes Rusty as infantile in appearance and behavior, which Holly suggests is a projection of Rusty's repressed homosexual nature. He is hospitalized in the Florida Keys when he is assaulted by a group of young men, and marries Mag unexpectedly shortly thereafter.
Holly's on-again, off-again friend with whom she briefly shares her apartment. A model with a pronounced stutter and extravagant style of dress, the reader is introduced to Mag at Holly's party, which she attends uninvited. Holly implies to her guests that Mag has VD, after which Mag insults Holly and then passes out on the apartment floor. Mag describes herself as a "very conventional person" and is uncomfortable with Holly's frank discussions of sex. Hospitalized for sunburn in Key West, she suspects Holly of having an affair with her fiance, Jose, with whom Holly takes off to Havana. Holly deflects Mag's suspicion by telling her she is a lesbian, which provokes her to reject Holly. Mag later marries Rusty Trawler, and refuses to help Holly when she is arrested.
The fiancee of Mag Wildwood and, later, Holly Golightly. Jose is an important Brazilian politician who aspires to the presidency of his country. He is cultured, well-dressed, and attractive. Holly admits that Jose is not her ideal lover, but is happy to be having her first "non-rat romance". He appears to love Holly, but remains protective of his high social and political status. When Jose impregnates Holly, he makes arrangements to marry her in Brazil, but rejects her when he discovers she has been arrested. Highly concerned about his public image, he sends his cousin to retrieve his possessions from Holly's apartment and notifies Holly of his departure via a short, albeit heartfelt, letter.
Holly's husband, a horse doctor from Tulip, Texas. He searches for Holly in New York and gains the help of the narrator in securing their reunion. Doc reveals the true details of Holly's early life, claiming that he unofficially adopted Holly when she and her brother had run away from the foster home they had been placed in following their parents' deaths. A widower with four children, Doc married Holly when she was fourteen, and was despondent when she escaped shortly thereafter. Upon their reunion, Holly sleeps with Doc again, but insists he return to Texas, alone, the next morning. Doc sends Holly the telegram that informs her of Fred's death.
The top lawyer O.J. Berman hires for Holly following her arrest.
The young man who rents Holly's apartment after she flees to South America. He entertains many male visitors and often has a black eye. "Quaintance" is a reference to George Quaintance, a provocative artist well-known within gay circles at the time of Capote's writing. Despite the indications of Smith's unorthodox lifestyle, Sapphia Spanella dotes on him, often nursing him when he has a black eye.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.