Breakfast at Tiffany's Section 11

From LitWiki


José abandons Holly when her name appears in the paper as a playgirl linked with the drug ring headed by Sally Tomato. The unnamed narrator takes José's letter to Holly, who is in the hospital, having lost her baby in a scuffle with the police. Holly, who seemed child-like when the narrator first gets to the hospital, makes a visible change when she sees the letter. She seems to age and harden. She asks the narrator for her cosmetics, because "A girl doesn't read this sort of thing without her lipstick." Holly applies lipstick and rouge, eyeliner and eyeshadow. She also puts on pearls, her dark glasses, sprays herself with perfume and lights a cigarette. She is readying her protective coating for what she expects to see in the letter (Garson 84).


  • 4711 (99)(veiw 4711[1]) - A unisex cologne introduced in 1772 by Muelhens . It contains citrus oils (lemon and orange), light floral rose and sandalwood oil.
  • crise (100) - French for "crisis"
  • la merde (100) - French for "shit"
  • schluffen (101) - A German word meaning "sleep"
  • Et pourquoi pas (101) - French for "and why not"
  • bouche fermez (102) - French for "close your mouth"
  • Purple Heart (103)(veiw Purple Heart[2]) - Is a U.S. military decoration awarded in the name of the President of the United States to those who have been wounded or killed while serving in, or with the U.S. military after April 5, 1917.
  • Maude (103) - In homosexual slang, "maude" signifies a male prostitute or a male homosexual.
  • picayune (99) - New Orlean's made cigarettes that were discontinued in the 1960's.
  • Mainbocher (100) - an expensive clothing line from the early 1900's; introduced the strappless evening gown.


While she is recovering in the hospital, the narrator goes to Holly's apartment and discovers José's cousin packing his things. The man leaves with Josés possessions giving the narrator only a letter, from Jose to Holly. Holly is displayed on the front page of every newspaper. "PLAYGIRL ARRESTED IN NARCOTICS SCANDAL" was just one of the headlines. This turned out to be too much for Jose to deal with. His entire life was more dedicated to his public career, rather than having a wife and family. He fled for Brazil saying in his letter to Holly, "But conceive of my despair upon discovering in such a brutal and public style how very different you are from the manner of woman a man of my faith and career could hope to make his wife. Verily I grief for the disgrace of your present circumstance, and do not find it in my heart to add condemn to the condemn that surrounds you" (Cash 1) .

Secondly, when Holly tells the narrator that she will not testify against Sally Tomato, she calls the narrator a name laden with queer meaning: "Well, I may be rotten to the core, Maude, but: testify against a friend I will not." In homosexual slang, "maude signifies a male prostitute or a male homosexual.The narrator himself makes a veiled reference to his homosexuality when he compares his rain-soaked trip from Holly's apartment to Joe Bell's bar to another difficult journey he had made years ago: "Never mind why, but once I walked from New Orleans to Nancy's Landing, Mississippi, just under five hundred miles. Nancy's Landing is Capote's creation; it does not exist geographically. According to A Dictionary of the Underworld, "Nancy" refers either to the posterior or to "an effeminate man, especially a passive homosexual." "Nancy's Landing," then serves as Capote's code phrase for a homosexual. Thus, the narrator's coy rejoinder that the reader should "never mind why" he made the trip appears as a subtle move to direct attention away from his self-confession (Pugh 1).

Holly labels José "a rat" like all the others, although she finally agrees bitterly with the narrator that José's reasons for giving her up, his religion and his career, are valid for the type of man he is. Holly then decides to flee the country, using the ticket for Brazil that José had brought her. For a time it seemed that Holly had found her dream, her "place where me and things belong together." Her relationship with José might have been like her vision of Tiffany's, with "quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there" (Garson 84, 85).

In his book, Truman Capote, Kenneth Reed states that Breakfast at Tiffany's, shares with most of Capote's other fiction a concern for people who are liberated from the more commonplace moorings of social and cultural life, and who are scarcely concerned with such things as family relationships and middle class notions of respectability. For example, when the narrator warns Holly that if she jumps bail, she will never again be able to come home, it impresses her not at all (Reed 92).

Breakfast at Tiffany's is a showcase for Holly Golightly. O.J. Berman introduced her as a "real phony" who honestly "believes all this crap she believes," and the remainder of the story is a gradual exposition of the content of this belief. All her life she has known deprivation and death and fought a desparate battle against fear. It is, finally, the awareness of death that keeps her from feeling at home anywhere and impels her on a constant search for something better (Nance 1).

Study Questions

  1. If José is so concerned with his career, why does he get involved with someone like Holly?
  2. Why does Holly call the narrator a maude?
  3. Does José know that Holly is pregnant with his child?
  4. Is Holly a prostitute?
  5. Does the narrator love Holly?

External Sources

[3] [http;//]

Works Cited

Section ten | Breakfast at Tiffany's | Section twelve