from my bookshelf: breakfast at tiffany’s by truman capote


the narrator meets holly golightly in the fall of 1943 in new york city. they are both tenants in the same brownstone. holly makes money by dating wealthy men. her past is unclear, but she opens up more and more about where she comes from as the book goes on. holly uses her beauty, fashion, and quick sense of humor to hide the fact that she is haunted by the lack of “belonging” in her life: she doesn’t feel that she  belongs to anything or anyone, or that anything or anyone belongs to her. this leads her to float through life without acknowledging her roots, and keep people at a healthy distance so as not to get hurt. while the movie is loosely based on the book, they are very different. one should experience both to appreciate the full point of capote’s story.


“For all her chic thinness, she had an almost breakfast-cereal air of health, a soap and lemon cleanness, a rough pink darkening in the cheeks…It was a face beyond childhood, yet this side of belonging to a woman.”

“…there was a consequential good taste in the plainness of her clothes, the blues and grays and lack of luster that made her, herself, shine so.”

“The same vanity that had led to such exposure, now forced me to mark her down as an insensitive, mindless show-off.”

“A disquieting loneliness came into my life, but it induced no hunger for friends of longer acquaintance: they seemed now like a salt-free, sugarless diet.”

“‘She is a phony. But on the other hand you’re right. She isn’t a phony because she’s a real phony. She believes all this crap she believes.'”

“…it was a grim cat with a pirate’s cutthroat face; one eye was gluey-blind, the other sparked with dark deeds.”

“‘I don’t mean I’d mind being rich and famous. That’s very much on my schedule, and someday I’ll get around to it; but if it happens, I’d like to have my ego tagging along. I want to still be me when I wake up one fine morning and have breakfast at Tiffany’s.'”

“‘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.'”

“‘If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany’s, then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name.'”

“…the average personality reshapes frequently, every few years even our bodies undergo a complete overhaul–desirable or not, it is a natural thing that we should change.”

“She was, I decided, ‘a crude exhibitionist,’ ‘a time waster,’ ‘an utter fake’; someone never to be spoken to again.”

“It was as though her eyes were shattered prisms, the dots of blue and gray and green like broken bits of sparkle.”

“‘But you can’t give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they’re strong enough to run into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky…You’ll end up looking at the sky…it’s better to look at the sky than live there. Such an empty place; so vague. Just a country where the thunder goes and things disappear.'”

“‘…I love New York, even though it isn’t mine, the way something has to be, a tree or a street or a house, something, anyway, that belongs to me because I belong to it.'”

“Guided by a compact mirror, she powdered, painted every vestige of twelve-year-old out of her face.”

“‘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.'”