By Bede Scott (auth.)
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2 had a nameslot fitted with a curious card. Printed, rather Cartier-formal, it read: Miss Holiday Golightly; and, underneath, in the corner, Travelling. It nagged me like a tune: Miss Holiday Golightly, Travelling” (Capote, Breakfast 16). This card is what initiates the hermeneutical project around which Breakfast at Tiffany’s is structured, the narrative that follows being an account, essentially, of the narrator’s struggle to fill this sign with meaning. Just who is Holiday Golightly, and how should one interpret her “curious” use of the present participle?
This is suggested, obliquely, when he begins to see more than one Holly after falling from a bolting horse: “The trouble was, I couldn’t see her; rather, I saw several Hollys, a trio of sweaty faces . . Then there were four of her, and I fainted dead away” (82). Again the termination of the scene represents a retreat from an uncomfortable reality—one the narrator is being forced to confront, against his will, by the very substance of the story he is telling. At other junctures, however, he is left with no choice but to acknowledge Holly’s mutability.
Quite so (archaic language notwithstanding): it doesn’t mean anything. Here we have a cue, if one were needed, for how best to interpret the novel we are reading—a gentle reminder that the narrative’s most appropriate level of interpretation is to be found wherever its literal meaning resides. III As I have suggested, Capote’s commitment to the superficial in Breakfast at Tiffany’s also brings about the diminution of the novel’s hermeneutic code, further contributing to its sense of lightness and insubstantiality.
On Lightness in World Literature by Bede Scott (auth.)