Tuesday, January 31, 2012

'Breakfast at Tiffany's' Open Thread

What did you think?

Read the whole discussion at the original post here.


  1. Even if you're not trying to, you come across a lot of comments about the Holly Golightly character -- she is so delightfully drawn, and the story is about her and her journey. And played by Audrey Hepburn, delicate, fragile, lovely, she is pretty irresistible.

    And she is an interesting character. We don't just want to enjoy her company, we want to get to know her. At least, we do once we learn that there is more to her than the charming eccentric that dates wealthy men for a living.

    I liked the way the viewer gets to know her past as Paul/Fred, Darling does, and we see the effect it has on him -- his feelings toward her, his understanding of himself -- as our own understanding of this girl grows.

    She learned early that attaching herself to a man of means was a critical survival technique, for herself and for the adored slow-witted brother Fred. Doc Golightly was the first savior, but he was as unrealistic about Lula-May's maturity as she was herself. "Going on fourteen" -- and he believed she was ready to be wife, homemaker, and step-mother, when what she and Fred needed was the shelter of loving parents, which they apparently had not had. She stayed in the "cage" Doc made her for less than a year before fleeing to California, where O.J. Berman spent a year grooming her, turning her into the sexy sophisticate she showed the world, only to have her fly his coop before becoming permanently fixed in Hollywood. And so we meet her in New York, a much-sought-after addition to elegant parties, where she has been hunting for a man of means to shelter her and Fred.

    But she does not understand that the kind of man who gives a girl fifty dollars for the powder room is most likely to view that fifty as an investment in the pleasures he assumes await him, and so she is continually disappointed that these men turn out to be "rats," if not "super-rats."

    She does fall in love with Paul as he falls for her -- and when she realizes it, it scares her into moving up the campaign on exotic, rich, Jose. She has to have money, as she tells Paul. She has to provide for Fred as well as herself, and the only marketable skill she has learned is being Holly Golightly.

    O.J. Berman claims he likes Holly; that although she is a fake, she's a real fake, believing all the stuff she says. But I think he's wrong; I think she knows clearly when she is being Holly -- whether engaging her audience one-on-one, as the dinner dates from whom she eventually must escape, or as a full house, like the the apartment-full of friends and acquaintances who quite literally party until they drop.

    Quite different from when she is being herself, the lonely, frightened, "no-name slob" that understands all too well Paul's situation in being financially dependent on someone else who has the money, and the power.

    That sympathetic understanding, that commiserating friendship with which she immediately embraces Paul, is the first reality check Paul gets about his arrangement with "E-2." Although it is as critical as Holly's change of heart, the change in Paul is played more lightly. He characterizes it as realizing that he can help someone else -- at least as important to him as the romantic feelings he has for Holly. But I think there is another element, too. I think his failure to live up to the "promise" of his first book, his view of himself as a failure, had left him open to the propositions from E-2, as if he is degrading himself as a sort of self-punishment.


  2. E-2's insistence that he have everything optimal for creating his Next Great Work is actually stifling, and she is in no hurry to see Paul successful, as success will make him independent of her. But Holly's belief in his abilities encourages him, his delight in getting to know her inspires him, and the growing success he achieves with the forbidden short stories brings him back to his natural hopefulness.

    Paul's hopefulness crashes head first into Holly's fears, and they part ways with Holly determined to marry Jose. The news of Fred's death tears Holly apart, and Paul makes sure it is Jose that stays to be there for her in her tremendous grief. When we next see Holly she is working on a revised version of herself, a Senora Jose version, learning Portuguese and knitting. She thinks she's finally headed for a future she wants, she's almost certain what Jose intends... and it is at that point that Jose defects over her arrest and the narcotics charges.

    She's too afraid of her own feelings, and the images she carries of relationships as traps, to accept Paul's proposal. I think it indicates how deeply she loves Paul that, abandoned and in jeopardy, she does not turn to Paul to rescue her; she's never had any doubt that he isn't one of her "rats," and it doesn't occur to her to use him.

    The last scene, the fight in the cab, has Paul's angry speech affecting her like cold water on a hysteric, she realizes that she can trust Paul, that she can stop running, and we all know the rest. (I hope! Boy, I forgot to say anything about Spoilers!)

    -- Cathy

  3. Read the rest of the discussion back at the original posting here.