Breakfast at Tiffanys Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


Breakfast at Tiffany's: Metaphor Analysis

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Tiffany’s is the name of a famous jewelers in New York. Holly tells the narrator that she likes to go there when she has an attack of the “mean reds,” a state of mind in which she feels that something bad may happen to her. When she goes to Tiffany’s it is so calm and orderly that she is able to relax, feeling that nothing bad can happen to her in such a place, “not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets.” Tiffany’s therefore symbolizes for Holly stability, peace, a secure environment—it gives her the sort of feeling she would have in a home if she could ever find somewhere she belonged.
The Bird Cage
The narrator is attracted to a large and expensive bird cage he sees in an antique shop in New York. He later points it out to Holly who subsequently buys it for him as a Christmas gift, with the condition that he never keep a live creature in it. The bird cage symbolizes confinement, captivity, being tied down, and it thus represents everything Holly resists. She is a free spirit and will not even go to a zoo because she cannot bear to see anything in a cage.
The Cat
Holly lives with a red cat but she refuses to give him a name. She claims that they do not really belong to each other; they just happened to run into each other one day at the river. Since she does not believe she owns the cat she feels she has no right to name it. The cat therefore represents the kind of independence that she wants for herself; they are two of a kind. But later, the cat will reveal something to Holly about herself that she does not realize. To demonstrate her lack of attachment to the cat, she turns him loose in Spanish Harlem on the way to the airport; she believes he will be able to look after himself. The cat is unwilling to go, however, and she has to shoo him away. The cat is less independent than she thought—and so is she. She immediately regrets what she has done and has the driver stop the car as she goes looking for the cat. She is discovering that she is more attached to the cat than she realized, and that realization shocks her—the idea that she could possess something as her own without even knowing it. At the end of the story, the narrator sees the cat happily ensconced in what looks like a loving home, which suggests something that Holly desires but has been unable to find (although the narrator hopes that she has). The presence of the cat in the story therefore suggests that Holly is perhaps less independent than she likes to believe.  
Crows and Wild Things 
When Doc Golightly is married to Holly, he empathizes with wild creatures and tries to befriend them. He tamed a crow, taught it to say Holly’s name, which at the time was Lulamae, and gave it to her. After she ran away, the crow reverted to being wild and (if Doc is to be believed), the crow called out her name from the woods. Doc also tried to help injured wild birds, including a hawk. Holly compares herself to a wild thing, impossible to tame. She tells Joe Bell that Doc’s efforts were doomed to fail because a wild thing will always fly off in the end. The crow and the hawk are therefore symbolic of Holly herself. She will not be domesticated; her true nature will always reassert itself. 


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