Breakfast of Tiffany's
is better known for its film version starring Audrey Hepburn than the novella by classic author Truman Capote. Yet, as with many notable interpretations on film, the book itself differs from the film, losing the romanticised ending and becoming an interesting exercise in stylistic narration and criticism. One might almost wonder whether Truman Capote was inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald's [b:The Great Gatsby|4671|The Great Gatsby|F. Scott Fitzgerald|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1361191055s/4671.jpg|245494] when writing his own exploration of a character. Yet where Fitzgerald is remarkably poetic and conservative Capote is a more liberal and gritty author.
The protagonist of Breakfast at Tiffany's
is no doubt meant to be the femme fatale that is Holly Golightly. Yet the narrator, unnamed as he is seems in many ways to be the main protagonist in that his views appear to change (change and development being the defining characteristics of protagonists) while Holly remains the same enigmatic character that she begins the novel as. It seems, in hindsight, impossible not to believe that Capote penned this without aiming to take the ideas of The Great Gatsby
and produce his own take. There is the similar idea of using a narrator to reflect upon the mysterious party throwing figure. There is the implied fact that the narrator has homosexual tendencies in the novel (of which there is much criticism about in regards to Fitzgerald's work), and there is the dream and desire of the enigmatic figure in the story. Yet, for all of these similarities, Capote seems to take a harsher approach. His Holly Golightly is a far shallower character than Jay Gatsby, here dreams and drive dictated purely by her flights of fancy and desire to gain some kind of wealth for herself. Truman Capote himself saw the character as an American geisha and that is the kind of woman Holly appears to be.
Though set in the 1940s, a time dominated by the Second World War, and therefore well after the era of prodigal individuals who populated Fitzgerald's work, there is a consistent theme that comes across to the reader. It is a theme that seems to preoccupy American authors; one wonders whether the literate American can ever truly escape it. This is the theme of the American Dream. A dream which can never be fully defined but exists in some intangible form, yet all seem to know it exists and that it can be kind to some and harsh to others. In many ways Holly herself, to a non-American at least, appears to depict the American Dream in a physical form. For she is desired by all who meet her and yet is a wild, free spirited individual only chained by her own American Dream: the desire to gain wealth and find a true romance.
Accompanying this particular penguin edition of Breakfast at Tiffany's
were three short stories which were nothing particular special, save that they highlighted the prose and character depiction of Truman Capote. Regardless, Breakfast at Tiffany's
stands as an excellent work of criticism through how it depicts the truly vain shallowness of pursuing a selfish goal to the exclusion of other individuals. Though there are clearly circumstances (marriage for instance) in which the desires of individuals must be separated from society and society's dreams on the whole the will of the people should prevail to allow unity and relationship to exist. In understanding such books as Breakfast at Tiffany's
as careful warnings of our spendthrift ways can we better understand our own roles in life.