Literature Study GuidesBreakfast At TiffanysSection 13 Holly The Homemaker Summary

Breakfast at Tiffany's | Study Guide

Truman Capote

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Breakfast at Tiffany's | Section 13 (Holly the Homemaker) | Summary

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Summary

Holly Golightly retreats to her apartment for the next few months. José Ybarra-Jaegar moves in, and Holly amuses herself playing the dutiful housewife. Though she never mentions Fred (and has stopped calling the narrator by his name), Holly seems happier than ever. She buys some furniture, a few small appliances, and "a library of cook books," and spends her afternoons "slopping about in the sweatbox of her midget kitchen." She listens to Portuguese language records while she cooks, and every time the narrator stops by, she talks about her future with José, even though he hasn't proposed yet. "But, after all, he knows I'm preggers (pregnant)," she explains.

Holly tells the narrator she's had only 11 lovers—she's not a "whore" like Mag Wildwood. In her opinion, whores have "dishonest hearts." She believes "you can't bang the guy and cash his checks" without trying to convince yourself you're in love, even if the guy is a "rat." José isn't a rat, but there are still things Holly doesn't like about him. If she had her choice, she'd pick Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, American presidential candidate Wendell Willkie, or Swedish American actress Greta Garbo. Yet she insists she does love José. She's hardly had "the mean reds" since they've been together, and she's even thrown away her horoscopes.

As that summer turns to early fall, Holly and the narrator are at the height of their friendship. They understand each other so well, they don't even have to speak to know how the other is feeling. The narrator is jealous of José—particularly when Holly waxes poetic about their future together—but he is content, for the moment, just to be with her.

Analysis

José Ybarra-Jaegar may not understand Holly Golightly, but she definitely understands José. He wants a traditionally feminine partner who cooks, cleans, and takes care of the home, so that's what she becomes. Fred's death has served as the catalyst for this major change in Holly's persona. The future she planned for herself and Fred is gone, so she needs a new one that will take her out of the United States and away from her past. José is the fastest and easiest way to reach that goal. It helps that she's pregnant. Holly believes José to be a decent person with strong morals, so she has no doubt he will marry her. At that time, infants born to unmarried people could be a cause for scandal that could ruin a political career. This may lead readers to wonder whether Holly planned the pregnancy to ensure José formalize their relationship. She even tells the narrator she wasn't surprised to find herself pregnant, "not un peu (a little) bit." Birth control methods recommended by the American Medical Association were available in the late 1930s, and by the early 1940s there were several choices for women when it came to family planning. A woman with Holly's resourcefulness would have had means to prevent an unwanted pregnancy if she wished. No matter whether it was intended or not, Holly is banking on her baby being the key to a financially secure future.

Though Holly is playing the traditional homemaker, she isn't shy when it comes to sharing her progressive views. "Alternative lifestyles," including homosexuality, were not socially acceptable during the 1940s, but Holly believes a person can marry whomever they want, whether it's a man, a woman, or a horse. "Love should be allowed," she says. This topic comes up a lot with Holly, and her views on the subject would have been far from the norm in the novella's 1940s' setting, and in 1958 when the book was published. Truman Capote specifically uses her instead of the narrator as his mouthpiece for sexual equality to both soften the blow of his views and to make a greater impact on the audience. Statements such as this fit into Holly's nature. She does a lot of morally ambiguous things—earning her living from the generosity of wealthy men, stealing other people's fiancés, and delivering messages for a known racketeer. Her views about homosexuality fit with her nontraditional approach. Yet Holly is also inherently charming and likeable. As the narrator can attest, it's hard to be angry with Holly, even when disagreeing with her. More often than not, people find themselves coming around to her point of view. That makes her the perfect delivery vehicle for Capote's "love is love" message.

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