Literature Study GuidesBreakfast At TiffanysSection 19 Holly Skips Town Summary

Breakfast at Tiffany's | Study Guide

Truman Capote

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Breakfast at Tiffany's | Section 19 (Holly Skips Town) | Summary



Holly Golightly prepares for her trip. She can't go back to the apartment in case the police are looking for her, so the narrator picks up her essentials, including the cat. Joe Bell, who delivers Holly's instructions to the narrator, doesn't know if they should be helping her at all. The narrator fills a suitcase and several paper bags with Holly's belongings, stuffs the cat into a pillowcase and walks through torrential rain to Joe's bar. Holly breaks out a bottle of brandy, but Joe refuses to drink. "If you're going to hell, you'll go on your own," he says. A limousine pulls up and Joe blushes. He hired it to take Holly to the airport. He shoves a handful of flowers from a nearby vase into Holly's hands and bolts from the room.

Holly changes out of her riding clothes and into her customary black dress in the limo. She has the driver stop in Spanish Harlem. She gets out of the limo with the cat in her arms, then tells him to beat it. He snuggles against her leg. She shouts expletives at him, then gets back in the car and tells the driver to go. The narrator can't believe it. "You are a bitch," he says. Holly tries to say they were both independents who never made each other any promises, but her voice catches. Then she's jumping out of the car at a stoplight and running back to where she left the cat. The narrator follows. They can't find the cat anywhere. The narrator guides her back to the limo, where she says, "Oh, Jesus God. We did belong to each other. He was mine." The narrator promises to come back, find the cat, and take care of him. "But what about me?" Holly whispers. She tells the narrator she's scared her life could go on like this forever—"not knowing what's [hers] until [she's] thrown it away." They drive to the airport.


Joe Bell and the narrator both deeply love Holly Golightly, but in different ways. Joe's love is paternal. He wants to make sure Holly is safe at all times, which is why he considers calling the police and telling them she's planning to run. He knows that would infuriate her, but at least she wouldn't get into trouble for fleeing the country. A Holly in jail is a Holly who is safe and accounted for. If she leaves, Joe can't help her. The narrator, on the other hand, loves Holly as an equal. Instead of telling her what to do or trying to get her to change her mind, he does what he can to help her succeed. Holly wants freedom, so the narrator does everything he can to help her escape even though he disagrees with her choices. It is telling that in Section 18, he wanted to be "strong, mature, an uncle." Uncles can give advice, but they don't have authority over their nieces and nephews. The narrator wants to help Holly, but he also doesn't want to lose her devotion. The only way to do that is to help her carry out her plan.

Holly's plan involves breaking ties with everyone she loves in New York, including the cat. Her decision to leave him in Spanish Harlem is the climax of the story, not only because of the heightened emotional tension but because this is the moment in the novella where Holly realizes she is the cause of her problems. It doesn't matter whether she's Lulamae Barnes, Holly Golightly, or Mrs. Wealthy Brazilian—she will always throw away the good things in her life in search of something better. She did it to Doc, who was by all accounts a loving and generous husband; to O.J. Berman, who saw star potential in her; and to her cat, who loved her unconditionally. In each case, she convinces herself love is not worth the sacrifice of her freedom; and in each case, she ends up alone. She is, in a sense, her own worst enemy.

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