Breakfast at Tiffany's: Pages 30-50
Summary, pp. 30-50
Some time goes by and the narrator sees nothing of Holly. He misses her and gets in touch with her again. She invites him to her apartment for a drink at six.
When he arrives, the narrator finds another man there, who turns out to be a Hollywood actor’s agent named O. J. Berman. He appears to know Holly quite well, although he knows nothing of her origins. He doesn’t know if she is “a hillbilly or an Okie.” He tells the narrator that two years ago, Holly had a chance to play a nurse in a Cecil B. DeMille movie starring Gary Cooper. But the day before the test was scheduled Holly called from New York; she had no particular interest in becoming a movie star and so missed the appointment.
Holly enters the room wearing only a towel. She is just out of the shower. She tells O. J. that Fred is a genius and that O. J. should help to make him rich.
Within the next quarter hour more men arrive, including some military men. None of them are young, and each is surprised that others are there. The narrator studies Rusty Trawler, who is a wealthy, three-times divorced celebrity who is also overweight and infant-looking. The narrator sees from gossip column clippings that he finds in a book on Holly’s bookshelf that she and Rusty have been seeing a lot of each other.
Holly winks at him, and as they talk she explains that she could never have been a movie star; it was too hard. She also explains, as she hugs her cat, that her cat has no name because they do not really belong to each other. They are both independent. Then she tells him that when she has the “mean reds” (feeling afraid that something bad is going to happen), she goes to Tiffany’s the jewelers, and that calms her down because she feels nothing bad could happen to her there.
After promising Rusty that they will go out to Chinatown for dinner, Holly makes it clear to “Fred” that she is only interested in Rusty for his money, although she likes him well enough, even though she knows he is childish.
A woman named Mag Wildwood enters. She is over six feet tall. Holly clearly does not want her there, but Mag stays nonetheless. She is a hit with the men, but after she leaves the room, Holly cruelly hints that she may have a social disease. Meg is puzzled by the lack of warmth that greets her on her return to the room. She responds by becoming aggressive. Holly tells “Fred” to put Mag in a taxi and send her home. But before he can do this, Mag falls to the floor. She is asleep.
Mag is still at Holly’s apartment a few days later. The narrator overhears the two women as they sit on the fire escape, talking. It transpires that Mag has a new romantic interest, a man named José who is Brazilian. She hopes to persuade him to become an American, since Brazil is a long way away and she does not speak Portuguese.
This section reveals Capote’s genius at satire. He creates amusing, biting portraits of many of the characters at Holly’s party: the garrulous wheeler-dealer O. J. Berman, the absurdly infantile Rusty Trawler, and the Amazonian, ugly-yet-beautiful Mag Wildwood. Holly of course is the center of attention, and when she is not, as when Mag joins the party, she soon finds a way of eliminating her rival. Under the charm there is ruthlessness about her. A little more of her background is revealed in this section—the reader learns that she had a chance to become a movie star—but not much. Her origins are as yet a mystery. How did Holly Golightly become Holly Golightly? is the question the reader is likely to ask. O. J. Berman knows something of her past, and he reacts to her rather as others do: he finds her exasperating and impossible to understand, but he cannot help but like her.
At the party, Holly does reveal to the narrator, in rather jocular fashion, her own loneliness. Like her nameless cat she has not found a place where she belongs. She has somewhere to which she returns at night (actually. early morning seems to be her preferred time of return) but it is not really a home. She has no idea of how long she will be living there. Also, in the midst of the social whirl and the attention of the men who fawn on her, she is essentially without human ties and, apparently, without any ties to a particular place. She floats and dazzles, an enigma, but she has no anchor. At root, Holly is insecure, as shown by the attacks of what she calls the “mean reds,” moods in which she feels a sense of foreboding. At such times she has no one to turn to, so she cures herself by going to Tiffany’s where the tranquil atmosphere calms her down.