Literature Study GuidesBreakfast At TiffanysSection 9 The Falling Out Summary

Breakfast at Tiffany's | Study Guide

Truman Capote

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Breakfast at Tiffany's | Section 9 (The Falling Out) | Summary

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Summary

Holly Golightly, Mag Wildwood, Rusty Trawler, and José Ybarra-Jaegar go to Key West, Florida, for a winter vacation in February 1944. Trawler and Mag both end up in the hospital, so Holly and José go to Havana, Cuba, by themselves. When they return to Key West, Mag is positive Holly slept with José. So is Trawler, but he's not mad—he just wants the details. According to Holly, all she's guilty of is playing "kneesie" under the table with a multiracial tour guide, who apparently appears in pornographic films on the side. To ease Mag's mind, Holly tells Mag she's a lesbian, which prompts Mag to buy an army cot so they won't have to share a bed back at their apartment. Holly is currently lying on it, naked, underneath a sun lamp so as to keep up her tan.

Holly tells the narrator she gave O.J. Berman a copy of the narrator's published short story. Berman thinks the narrator is talented, but he and Holly agree the narrator needs to pick a subject matter other than "negroes and children." The content of his stories "doesn't mean anything," Holly says. Her criticism angers the narrator, and he feels the urge to spank her until she gives a literary example that "means" something: Wuthering Heights. The narrator relaxes once he figures out Holly has only seen the movie. That, in turn, angers Holly, who accuses the narrator of feeling "superior" to her. They bicker about money, life goals, and the birdcage. Holly senses the narrator wants to hit her, and he says he wouldn't regret it if he did. He only regrets she "wasted [her] money on [him]: Rusty Trawler is too hard a way of earning it." Holly kicks him out for his insulting remark. She never likes others to talk about things she does unless they are flattering her.

Analysis

Holly Golightly and the narrator verbally hit each other where it hurts the most: she criticizes his writing and he insinuates she is little more than a prostitute. The root of their anger stems from the underlying differences in their approaches to money. Contrary to Holly's assertion, the narrator believes writing about outsiders—or, as Holly says, "brats and niggers"—is a worthy endeavor, even if it doesn't result in social notoriety and large amounts of cash. He sees himself as an artist, and it stings that his friend thinks his work is worthless. But to her, it is. She believes the purpose of work is to make money, even if it goes against one's ethical and moral beliefs. Individuals can convince themselves to do anything if the price is right. She doesn't care about art for the sake of art—she cares about survival and maintaining her freedom.

She also cares about what people think of her. As readers later learn, Holly left school before she was 14. She doesn't have the narrator's formal education, and she's particularly sensitive to any insinuation that he is smarter than she is. Though she has spent her life trying to become a better version of herself, she is self-conscious about her shortcomings. She is also insecure about the nature of her romantic relationships. Holly technically isn't a prostitute, as her dates do not give her money specifically in exchange for sex, but rather for the promise of it. But she is, in a roundabout way, paid for her companionship. Performing as a paid escort also carries an undesirable social stigma. Holly can acknowledge to herself that she's using these men for their money, but she doesn't want anyone else to think she is selling herself.

It's important to note that Section 9 is devoid of flirtation and sexual attraction, even though Holly spends most of it completely naked. The mood of the scene is uncomfortably tense, and when the narrator describes seeing Holly's breasts, he says they are "coldly blue in the sunlamp light." There is nothing feminine or warm about Holly during their fight, nor does the narrator appear to be attracted to her naked form as he rubs oil on it. Instead of being aroused or uncomfortable, he is simply indifferent, although he can imagine spanking her. This is further confirmation of his presumed homosexuality.

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