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Literature / Breakfast at Tiffany's

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Breakfast at Tiffany's is a 1958 novella by Truman Capote.

Set in Manhattan in 1943-44, and centering around a nameless writer's friendship with a bicurious, borderline Hooker with a Heart of Gold named Holly Golightly, the story is a touching meditation on the varying nature of love, and how people of disparate backgrounds can form unconventional family groups.

The novella was loosely adapted into a 1961 film starring Audrey Hepburn.

This novella provides examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Past: The novella was published in 1958 and is set in 1943-1944.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Holly calls the writer "Fred" after her brother. She stops calling him that after she learns that her brother was killed in action overseas though.
  • Ambiguously Bi/Ambiguously Gay: Neither "Fred" nor Holly have an explicitly defined sexual orientation, but Holly makes it clear that she's open to the possibility of relationships with women. The situation is murkier with the narrator, but his interest in Holly is just platonic, and since he's obviously an Author Avatar for Capote, who was very openly gay in Real Life, he's commonly interpreted as gay.
  • Artistic License – Geography: It's highly unlikely that the plane flying from Miami to Brazil will pass over the Andes. Granted, as it is Holly's words, it may just be a nod to her being Book Dumb, but the narrator seems to go along with the idea.
  • Artistic License – History: There are some minor chronological discrepancies in the novella.
    • At the party at Holly's the narrator notices the newspaper report on the premiere of One Touch of Venus, which took place on October 7, 1943. Yet the party took place on October 6, 1943 at the very latest (exactly a week after their first meeting, which happened on some evening in September 1943).
    • At the same party, the narrator is asked if he saw The Story of Mr. Wassell, a film released in 1944.
    • Holly also quotes the song Maude, You're Rotten to the Core, which was written in 1952.
  • Blind Without 'Em: It's explained after the narrator gets to know Holly better that she constantly wears sunglasses because they're prescription and she can barely see a thing without them.
  • Blithe Spirit: Holly.
  • Book Dumb: Holly is pretty smart, but almost entirely uneducated. Mag probably qualifies too.
  • The Capital of Brazil Is Buenos Aires: Averted. Holly writes to the narrator that "Brazil was beastly but Buenos Aires the best."
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Holly trying to justify throwing Cat into the rain in an alley and leaving him behind while she heads off to Rio; she stops mid-explanation and immediately goes back to find him. But she can't.
    Holly: Oh, Jesus God. We did belong to each other. He was mine. [...] 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.
  • Foregone Conclusion: It's stated right off the bat that it had been years since the main character had ever seen or heard from Holly, and that she may well be somewhere in Africa at this point.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Holly's cat is named... Cat.
  • From Stray to Pet: Holly has taken in a cat she found, however she refuses to name him because she insists he isn't her cat. When she does get him to leave, she regrets it a few minutes later but is unable to find him again. He ends up adopted by someone else.
  • The Ghost: Fred, Holly's mentally handicapped brother who joined the army. Eventually he's killed in action overseas.
  • Gratuitous French: Holly Golightly does this often, usually incorrectly; so did her creator, Truman Capote, and many of his society friends who wanted to seem more society than they were.
  • The Mafia: Holly ends up involved with the mafia, though she claims to be an unwitting accomplice.
  • Meaningful Name: What better name than "Holiday Golightly" could there be for a free-spirited ditz with an unserious approach to life? Noted with her hanging a sign on her door whenever she was out, "Miss Holiday Golightly Traveling". Bonus points for the sign having been made at titular Tiffany's. And extra bonus points for the name Holiday - of which "Holly" is diminutive - being Meaningful Rename (her real name is Lulamae Barnes). "Golightly", however, is not an example of Meaningful Rename - it is her ex-husband's last name.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Holly's unnamed friend is a writer.
  • No Antagonist: Everything that happens to Holly happens because she's Holly.
  • No Name Given: The narrator.
  • Oblivious to Love: Holly is this towards the narrator, but even moreso towards Joe Bell.
  • Precision F-Strike: Holly, when abandoning her cat. Doubly precise considering the meticulousness of Truman Capote's prose.
  • Really Gets Around: Holly claims she's only had eleven lovers, excluding anything that happened before she was thirteen, and she's quite flirty throughout the story. Some of her friends have apparently had more.
  • Sexless Marriage: Implied with Holly and Doc Golightly. It helps to lessen the squick of her marrying a man old enough to be her father.
  • Slut-Shaming: Holly does a lot of this herself but also receives quite a bit. Her older neighbor Madame Spanells in particular dislikes Holly's lifestyle and partying.
  • Speech-Impeded Love Interest: While not the protagonist's love interest, Mag invokes this with her pronounced stutter. She will exaggerate it, especially in front of men, when it benefits her. Apparently the impediment makes her more appealing.
  • Speech Impediment: Mag has a pronounced stutter that she sometimes exaggerates for her benefit.
  • Title Drop: "I want to still be me when I wake up one fine morning and have breakfast at Tiffany's." Unlike in the adaptation, Holly never actually does, so the title alludes to an uttainable dream.
  • Walking the Earth: Holly is a downplayed example. She really wants to settle down, but she just can't until she feels that the place is right, that she can belong there. New York is probably her closest equivalent of that place though, and she leaves it involuntarily.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Subverted. In the very last sentences, we find out that Holly's cat found a new home.