Literature Study GuidesBreakfast At TiffanysSection 18 Visiting Hours At The Hospital Summary

Breakfast at Tiffany's | Study Guide

Truman Capote

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Breakfast at Tiffany's | Section 18 (Visiting Hours at the Hospital) | Summary



The narrator visits Holly Golightly at the hospital two days later. She had a miscarriage the night of her arrest, and she's been there ever since. She tells him she "nearly cooled (died) ... the fat woman (death) almost had [her]." She first saw the fat woman after Fred died, sitting in a rocking chair and cradling Fred on her lap while "laughing like a brass band."

Holly asks the narrator about José Ybarra-Jaegar. He reluctantly gives her the letter. She puts on makeup before opening it because "[a] girl doesn't read this sort of thing without her lipstick." In imperfect English, José has written that—to protect his reputation, his family, and his career—he cannot marry her and has already departed for Brazil. The narrator thinks the letter is honest and "touching." Even Holly has to agree: José may be "[a] super-sized, King Kong-type rat like Rusty [Trawler]," but "he's not a rat without reason."

The conversation returns to her current problems. She lost the baby not because of her arrest or the harsh treatment from the female police officer, but because of the renegade horse race earlier that afternoon. The narrator asks Holly what she plans to do next. She intends to sleep for a few days, then fly to Brazil as planned. The narrator tries to explain that she's still wanted for criminal activity. If she leaves, she won't be able to come home. She argues the authorities don't really want to punish her—they just want her as a witness, and she refuses to testify against a friend. She also isn't interested in sticking around the neighborhood, as she's pretty sure no one would want to associate with her anymore. Without friends, particularly male friends, she's as good as broke.

Before the narrator leaves, Holly asks him to get a list of the 50 richest men in Brazil as well as the St. Christopher medal he gave her for Christmas.


The "fat woman" is Holly Golightly's mental image of death personified. Seeing the fat woman cradling Fred like a long-lost son is what sent Holly into the tailspin after receiving word of his death—she felt as if he were being taken from her by some evil force. Holly's admission that she saw the fat woman again during her miscarriage tells the reader how close she was to "cooling," or dying. She could have chosen to go along with the fat woman and be with Fred, but instead she fought to escape the clutches of this maternal grim reaper. Holly wants her happy ending, no matter the cost. She lost "the heir," her boyfriend, and the likelihood of picking up another wealthy Manhattan boyfriend, but she won't be deterred from her goal of finding a place where "[she] and things belong together." She will find her way on her own, even if it means finding a new Brazilian "rat" to marry.

Holly's emotional strength is matched by her dogged sense of loyalty. She could easily blame Sally Tomato for getting her into this mess, but she takes full responsibility for her actions. One of Holly's fatal flaws is her ability to see the good in everyone. "My yardstick is how somebody treats me," she tells the narrator, and even though Tomato took a "slight advantage" of her, that's not enough reason for her to take the side of the authorities. Just as she once convinced herself Rusty Trawler wasn't all that bad, she believes that—deep down—Tomato is a good person who didn't mean to get her into trouble. Holly looks past people's exterior appearances because her own exterior is a false front. She knows the real Holly is the farm girl running through the brier patch, not the society darling in the chic black dress, and she assumes others are hiding just as much as she is.

Holly's facade—her makeup, her sunglasses, her multicolored hair, and her fashionable clothing—is her armor. It protects her from bad days, bad news, and bad men. That's why she insists on doing her makeup before she reads José Ybarra-Jaegar's letter. Nothing can hurt her when she's stylish and cool, just like nothing bad could ever happen when she's at Tiffany's, for her the symbol of all she wants in life.

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