Breakfast at Tiffanys
Truman Capote
Contributed by Pearl Vahle
Chapter 8-9

After his argument with Holly, the narrator places the birdcage in front of her apartment door. However, the next day he sees it on the sidewalk and brings it back to his apartment. Nevertheless, he maintains his grudge against Holly, not speaking to her when they pass each other in the brownstone or at Joe Bell’s. However, when Sapphia Spanella, another tenant, brings a petition against Holly to have her evicted, the narrator refuses to sign, and the petition fails.

Later that spring, the narrator notices a suspicious man looking at Holly’s mailbox. He is in his late-fifties and shabbily dressed. The narrator sees the man throughout the day, and realizes that he is following him. When the man sits down beside him in a restaurant, the narrator asks him what he wants, and the man tells him he is looking for a friend. The man shows the narrator a photo of himself and several children standing on a weathered porch. He points out that one of the children is Holly, and that another is her brother Fred. The man tells the narrator that he is a horse doctor from Texas named Doc Golightly, and that Holly’s real name is Lulamae Barnes. They were married when Holly was thirteen. Doc was informed of his wife’s whereabouts by Fred, and intends to convince Holly to return to him and the children he is raising from his first marriage.

Doc explains that he first encountered Holly and Fred when they were attempting to steal milk and turkey eggs from his farm. They had run away from the family they had been placed with when their parents died of tuberculosis. Doc took pity on the children and raised them as his own. Impressed by Holly’s intelligence and charm, he eventually proposed to her. While she was well fed and did little housework, preferring to "comb her hair and send away for all the magazines," Holly was restless and eventually ran away.

Doc asks the narrator to let Holly know that he is here, and the narrator agrees. The two men return to the brownstone, where Doc waits at the bottom of the stairs while the narrator knocks on Holly’s door. Holly assumes that he has come to make up after their fight, and asks him to return the next day, but when he calls her "Lulamae", she realizes that he has heard about her true identity. Thinking that it is her brother who is visiting, she calls down the hall for Fred. When she sees Doc, they laugh and embrace happily while Madame Spanella looks on with disapproval.

The next morning, Holly and the narrator have a conversation at Joe Bell’s bar. She explains that she doesn’t need to divorce Doc since she was only fourteen when she married, and thus, the marriage wasn’t legal. She confesses that while she never intended to return to Texas with Doc, she slept with him the night before, since he gave her confidence as a child, and "anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot." She explains that she took him to the bus station that morning, and, as they were saying goodbye, she realized that was still Lulamae, "stealing turkey eggs and running through a brier patch."

"Never love a wild thing," Holly tells Joe. She explains that Doc was always nurturing wild animals, and that the more love he gave them, the stronger they became. Drunkenly, Holly states that "if you let yourself love a wild thing...[you’ll] end up looking at the sky." Realizing that her husband must be back in Texas already, Holly invites the narrator to join her in a toast to Doc.


The narrator’s attachment to Holly is revealed in Section 8 through his ambivalent behavior. While he claims to desire Holly out of his life, he rescues the birdcage she gave him from the sidewalk curb, and refuses to sign a petition that would have her evicted. He is willing to act like he is angry, but unwilling to do anything that would sever his ties with Holly. Rather than true anger, the narrator appears to be performing anger as a way of working through his conflicted feelings toward her.

The appearance of Doc Golightly in this section re-establishes the ties between the narrator and Holly, not merely because the narrator acts as a liaison for Doc and Holly but because it reveals to the narrator the secret of Holly’s early life, thereby making her vulnerable to the narrator. Not only does the narrator learn of the poverty and abuse of Holly’s childhood, which explains her perpetual sense of homelessness, but he also learns her real name - Lulamae Barnes - which no one else seems to know. Holly’s true story is exposed to the narrator, and thus she can’t afford to maintain a grudge. Moreover, knowing Holly’s true identity gives the narrator an upper hand over her and triggers his protective instinct toward his friend.

It is interesting that Holly’s real name - Lulamae - is quite similar to Capote’s own mother’s name, Lillie Mae. Like Holly, Capote’s mother changed her name to a more sophisticated sounding one - Nina - when she moved from the rural south to New York City. Lulamae, a compound of the names "Lula" and "Mae", alludes to springtime; it is interesting that Holly replaced it with a name that refers to a winter plant. The opposing meanings of the two names encapsulates the severity with which Holly rejects her roots, constructing a new identity that is the complete opposite of the one she was born with.

However, Holly’s conversation with the narrator in Joe’s bar the morning following Doc’s visit indicates she has not been affected by the return of her secret past. She admits to having slept with her husband again, not out of love, but because she felt she still "owed" him for having rescued her and her brother. As she does with the men she entertains in New York, Holly sells her body to Doc as a kind of payment for his kindness, and does so with nonchalance. Doc was not angry with Holly and still hoped for her return again, which indicates her power over the men in her life, doubly illustrated by the narrator’s renewed devotion.

Holly’s drunken monologue in Joe’s bar is one of the novella’s famous passages. It gives the reader further insight into the initial attraction between Doc and the young Holly. She explains that Doc was "always hauling home wild things...a hawk with a hurt wing...a full-grown bobcat with a broken leg." He loved to nurture and nurse these animals, despite the fact they only abandoned him once they were back to health. "Never love a wild thing," Holly warns Joe, "[you’ll] end up looking at the sky." Holly, a starving and homeless child when Doc adopted her, is thus aligned with the wild animals he also loved. Considering herself a "wild thing", she indicates that she believes that, like an animal, she is inherently untamable, and that it is her essential nature to run away from those who love her. In this way, Holly admits to her fear of commitment while suggesting that, like an animal, she is not responsible for her behavior. Directing her warning at Joe, Holly subtly indicates that he should prepare to be hurt when she inevitably leaves her life in New York.

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