Holiday Golightly, Traveling.
Certainly, having that in a calling card attracts attention. But the lovable thing about Truman Capote’s best creation is that Holly never consciously tries to get attention; she’s a natural. A dreamer. A poet. The perfect cafe society girl.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a story about the 19-year-old Texan runaway and orphan, Holly Golightly, whom Capote clarified as an American geisha, not a prostitute. Her primary occupation is dating rich, older men, whom she allows to take her home at night and even kiss her in the neck. In return for her companionship, they give her gifts of money or jewelry.
Her lifestyle is the first thing that her neighbors notice—going home past midnight, sometimes alone, sometimes with a man, ringing the bell to rouse her neighbor at any hour when she can’t find her keys. Even when she doesn’t introduce herself formally, Holly manages to involve her neighbors in her life just by being her annoying, but charming self. When she met the writer she calls Fred, she was in the middle of a situation with a man she invited to her apartment and whom she wanted to escape from at that particular moment.
In just 111 pages, Capote created a story about a girl who has a dream. Of love, of wealth, of being reunited with her brother somewhere in Mexico. As this is the first work of Capote that I’ve read, I’m not yet quite used to his writing style and language, but he gave Holly a magnetic personality which is primarily evident in her speech.
My favorite part in the novella is not when she released her nameless cat in Spanish Harlem. It happened much earlier, when she was relating to Fred how she came to be the incarcerated Sally Tomato’s niece, how it was romantic of Sally to remember her face even if they had not met and how the visitors of Sing Sing looked their best. Holly may be smoking cigarettes, drinking brandy, and losing sleep socializing with men like a real sophisticated lady, but she’s still very much a girl who believes in romance and in the innocent side of things. It makes her naive and causes her trouble in the end, but still, it’s what the writer and the bar owner and countless other men in the story love about her. That vulnerability she can’t shake just yet.
Next to Scarlett O’Hara, Holly Golightly is one of the best written female characters I’ve ever read. My only regret is that her story is too short. Thank God, there’s still the movie with that melancholy song.