HomeLiterature Study GuidesBreakfast At TiffanysSection 14 Horseback Riding In The City Summary

Breakfast at Tiffany's | Study Guide

Truman Capote

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Breakfast at Tiffany's | Section 14 (Horseback Riding in the City) | Summary

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Summary

On September 30—the narrator's birthday (as well as Truman Capote's)—Holly Golightly announces she and José Ybarra-Jaegar are leaving for Brazil that weekend. She entreats the narrator to come along as she takes a final horseback ride in Central Park. On their way there, she mentions it has been a month since she saw Sally Tomato, who seemed really happy when she told him she was leaving the country. Tomato's lawyer, Mr. O'Shaughnessy, gave Holly $500 for a wedding gift. The narrator wonders aloud if there will actually be a wedding, particularly because Holly is technically already married. Holly tells him to leave it alone.

They reach the stable and mount their horses. Holly is an experienced rider, but the narrator hasn't been on a horse since "10-cent pony rides at childhood carnivals." The narrator perks up once they start riding. All of a sudden "a band of Negro boys" jump out of the bushes. They throw rocks at the horses and whip their rears. The narrator's horse bolts. The narrator holds on for dear life as Holly races behind him, shouting words of encouragement. A mounted policeman joins the chase, and he and Holly finally maneuver the narrator's mare into stopping. The narrator falls to the ground. In a cab, he sees several Hollys swimming before his eyes, then faints.

Analysis

The narrator has long known about Holly Golightly's plans to move to Brazil with José Ybarra-Jaegar, but he never thought they would actually come to fruition. His feelings about her impending departure may be categorized as jealousy, but the emotion comes from two different sources. He's jealous of José because José will get to be with Holly for what he presumes to be the rest of their lives. With no evidence to the contrary, Holly has become the narrator's best friend. He never even mentions spending time with other people, so readers may assume Holly has become his main social companion. The thought of losing her makes him feel sick. He's also jealous of Holly. Despite her protests that she's a "wild thing" that can't be caged, Holly is giving up her freedom for financial and personal security. Of the two of them, the narrator is the one more comfortable with the notion of being tied to one person and one place, yet it is Holly who is about to climb into a cage of sorts.

Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's in the early days of the American Civil Rights and Women's Liberation movements. It is clear that he supports the latter, as the female protagonist of his novella is depicted as a progressive, forward-thinking, self-starter who makes her own decisions. Yet his views on civil rights for ethnic and racial minorities, while not unusual for the era, are often troubling. Many phrases and events in the novel come across as blatantly racist—such as the instance of the black boys jumping out of the bushes to scare the horses. The narrator's comparison of the boys to "savage members of a jungle ambush" perpetuates the stereotype that African Americans are dangerous hoodlums. Holly, who says offensive things about everyone, particularly lesbians, also shows racial insensitivity, using the term "nigger" and describing the baby she and José's are expecting as "coony." Yet there are some minorities Capote takes care to protect. In Section 1, the narrator quickly corrects Joe Bell when he insists Mr. I.Y. Yunioshi is a "Jap"—he's actually a Japanese American from California. Joe doesn't see any difference, so he keeps using the wrong word. This positions the narrator as opposed to racism against certain minorities but guilty of it himself with regard to others. As many critics believe the narrator is a stand-in for Capote, it can be inferred that his feelings were not much different.
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