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Course Hero. "Breakfast at Tiffany's Study Guide." Course Hero. 29 June 2017. Web. 16 Nov. 2018. <>.

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Course Hero. (2017, June 29). Breakfast at Tiffany's Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 16, 2018, from

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Course Hero. "Breakfast at Tiffany's Study Guide." June 29, 2017. Accessed November 16, 2018.


Course Hero, "Breakfast at Tiffany's Study Guide," June 29, 2017, accessed November 16, 2018,

Breakfast at Tiffany's | Motifs



Holly Golightly wears literal and figurative masks to conceal her true identity, which is that of a rural runaway orphan and child bride. Yet with some makeup, a little black dress, and stylish prescription sunglasses, she turns herself into someone completely different: Holly Golightly, New York City socialite. It is when she takes off these masks—removes the makeup, loses her glasses in a fit of grief—that she reveals her true, vulnerable nature. A coat of lipstick and mascara, such as she puts on before reading José Ybarra-Jaegar's farewell letter, may make her feel braver, but they don't change who she is.


Holly can't stand cages of any kind. To her they represent captivity and the inability to live life freely. Because of this dislike, she even avoids the zoo. Yet when she finds out the narrator covets an antique store's ornate palatial birdcage, she buys it for him. At $350 the cage is prohibitively expensive (at least a few months' worth of rent), but the true grandness of the gesture is in its meaning. She is giving him something which, despite its beauty, she herself abhors. She wants him to be happy, even if she doesn't understand the source of happiness. On a broader scale, she is showing her approval of the narrator's desire for security at the cost of freedom, even though she herself is pursuing the exact opposite thing.


Holly purposefully doesn't name her pet cat because she doesn't want to get too attached to him. Giving him a name would make him a more permanent fixture in her life, and she doesn't like to be tied to particular individuals or places. Yet when she boots the cat out of the limo and out of her life, she realizes they actually did belong to each other. The cat represents the feeling of security and home Holly searches for throughout the novel and the self-sabotage she engages in time and time again.

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