“What I found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany’s. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there.”
Thanks to Audrey Hepburn’s marvelous portrayal in the Breakfast at Tiffany’s film, Holly Golightly has become an icon in American culture. The image of her in that classic LBD with a bun in her mouth standing in front of Tiffany’s is one of the most famous images in film and pop culture. We love her because of her quirkiness and charm, and because she somehow remains true to herself while also being an active member of an image-obsessed world. Truman Capote wrote a sparkling character with more wit and wisdom than she is often given credit for. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the novella that show how wise Holly is.
“I don’t mean I’d mind being rich and famous. That’s very much on my schedule, and someday I’ll try to get around to it; but if it happens, I’d like to have my ego tagging along. I want to still be me when I wake up one fine morning and have breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
Holly knows that she wants to remain herself even if she’s famous and very much in the public eye. She knows that your ego can get the best of you and change your personality into something ugly.
“The answer is good things only happen to you if you’re good. Good? Honest is more what I mean… Be anything but a coward, a pretender, an emotional crook, a whore: I’d rather have cancer than a dishonest heart.”
With Holly, being herself means being honest at all times. She doesn’t intentionally mislead people to get her way, and she likens a liar to a criminal. Very wise.
“It may be normal, darling; but I’d rather be natural.”
“Everybody has to feel superior to somebody,” she said. “But it’s customary to present a little proof before you take the privilege.”
“Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.”
Holly speaks these words about her much-older husband. She still has affection for him, even after she ran away, because his kind heart allowed her to flourish into the person she is. His nurturing spirit gave her confidence, and she’s grateful to him for that.
“I’m very scared, Buster. Yes, at last. Because it could go on forever. Not knowing what’s yours until you’ve thrown it away.”
Holly feels a bit lost in her life and doesn’t want to put down roots anywhere. In a fit of emotion she abandons her cat to the streets and then immediately regrets it, realizing that they did in fact belong to each other. She makes the narrator of the story find the cat and keep it.
“I don’t want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together.”
Also, did you know that Capote wrote the character of Holly Golightly specifically for Marilyn Monroe? I don’t know about you, but I can’t see anyone else playing Holly but Audrey, as much as I love Marilyn. I do think that Capote had rare insight into Marilyn’s personality though, because Monroe’s personality mirrors Golightly almost perfectly. I almost feel sad that Marilyn never got the chance to play her alter ego onscreen.