Breakfast at Tiffany's Section 4

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Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Truman Capote in 2005 sony film

On a Monday in October 1943, the narrator and Holly Golightly start off their day by drinking Manhattans and champagne cocktails at Joe Bell's bar. Later, they walk down to Fifth Avenue to watch a military parade passing by. The narrator and Holly eat lunch in Central Park, and walk around the park spending a lot of time at an old boathouse site on the lake. The narrator and Holly avoid the zoo because Holly dislikes seeing anything in a cage.

The narrator tells Holly stories of his difficult childhood. Holly talks about hers too, telling the stories of her happy childhood, at which point the narrator asks if her stories are true: did she really run away at fourteen? Holly responds by rubbing her nose and stating that the stories has been made up, only because she did not want to seem like she was competing with the narrator over who had a worse childhood. The narrator and Holly stop discussing their childhood, and Holly wants to go looking for peanut butter for her brother Fred.

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly

The narrator and Holly spend the rest of the afternoon going through a multitude of stores searching for peanut butter - which due to the war is hard to find - and end up with only six jars.

As the narrator and Holly pass a Woolworth’s, Holly pulls the narrator into the store and talks him into stealing Halloween masks. The two of them put on masks while the sales lady is occupied, and walk out. They run a few blocks away, not because they are being chased, but from the exhilaration of stealing. Holly tells the narrator how she had to steal in the past just to get by, and how she likes to steal things once in a while just to stay in practice.


  • Delicatessen (55) — a type of food store. A North American delicatessen is often referred to, informally or affectionately, as a deli.( A delicatessen on Third Avenue is where the narrator and Holly Golightly buy the last of six jars of peanut butter.
  • Fifth Avenue (53) — a major thoroughfare in the center of the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx in New York City, USA; a symbol of wealthy New York ( The narrator and Holly Golightly wander to Fifth Avenue where a parade is going on.
  • Manhattans (53) — a cocktail consisting of vermouth, whiskey, and sometimes a dash of bitters. ( The narrator and Holly enjoy Manhattans one day at Joe Bell's bar.
  • Peanut butter (54) — a food product usually consisting of roasted and ground peanuts, usually salted and sometimes sweetened. ( Holly decides to send her brother Fred six jars of peanut butter that he loved.
  • Woolworth's (55) — an extensive chain of five-and-ten-cent stores throughout the U.S. ( As the narrator and Holly pass a Woolworth's store, she asks the narrator to steal something with her. They leave the store wearing stolen Halloween masks.


Holly's dislike for cages emulates her own feelings that she does not like to be caged or tied down. She does not want to be attached to anybody nor anything until she finds a place of her own; a place she could call her home. She wants to remain an independent spirit. What she does not realize, however, is that even with her attempts to keep herself distanced from everyone, she still has an impact on their lives; she is still a part of their lives.

Despite the friendship that exists between the narrator and Holly, the sister-brother-like relationship (Garson 87), Holly does not give the narrator the true account of her childhood, when she is asked about it. Instead of telling about the difficult life and her running away from it, she tells him about times full of swimming in the summer, Christmas trees, pretty cousins and parties (54). For her, fictionalizing, inventing stories and hiding behind a mask is better than facing the reality because the truth is too painful and may sometimes bring on the "mean blues" (sadness) or the "mean reds" (fear) (Garson 82-83).

Fred, Holly's brother, is also the most important person to her. He is so close to her that Holly even envisions herself, some time in the near future, in a house in Mexico, near the sea, where she and Fred could live together (Garson 85). He is the only person whom she really loves and cares about. There is such a big bond between them that even on that day, the day of celebration of the narrator's success, Holly still remembers about her brother. In spite of the scarcity of many products during the World War II due to a great demand on them overseas, she decides to find some jars of peanut butter, which Fred loves, to send to him.

"Her rules are her own, derived from a desire for independence and the need to survive in a world she has known to be cruel or indifferent to those who are unprotected" ( Garson 82) plus "her irresponsibilty, childlike unself-consciousness [...] fantasy existence [and] living [...] devoted to having fun" (81) are the reasons why she ever started stealing and keeps doing that, particularly on that day with the narrator. Even if her earlier thefts were a necessity for her and her brother to survive, the act of stealing of the Halloween masks from Woolworth's is, according to Miss Golightly, just for fun.

Study Questions

  1. Why do the narrator and Holly avoid the zoo?
  2. Holly had been on her own since what age?
  3. With whom is the saleslady occupied when the narrator and Holly enter the store?
  4. What do they steal?
  5. What does Holly say that she should send Fred?
  6. This section takes place during what season?
  7. How do they start the day off?
  8. Why did Holly say that she stole every now and then?

External Resources

Works Cited

  • Capote, Truman. Breakfast at Tiffany's. New York: Vintage Books - A division of Random House, 1993.
  • Garson, Helen S. Truman Capote. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1980.
  • Grobel, Lawerence. Conversations with Capote. New York: New American Library, 1985.
  • Pugh, Tsion. "Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's." Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's Fall 2002: 51-53.
  • Reed, Kenneth T. Truman Capote. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1981.
  • Smith, Liz. "My Friend Truman Capote." Harper's Bazaar March 2006: 426-428.

Section three | Breakfast at Tiffany's | Section five