Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Although the setting of the story is realistic, little else is. Miss Bobbit is a fantasy creature, unlike any ten-year-old girl who has ever existed. In her, Truman Capote created a type of child who reflected much of what he believed that children longed to be: beautiful, clever, and loved. Both in statements about his own childhood and in his fiction he brooded over the sadness and disappointments that children suffer. Happiness is evanescent: Most of the children of his stories begin their years in innocence and pleasure. Then the blow falls, usually with the loss of a much-loved person. However, his portrait of Miss Lily Jane Bobbit differs from the others in a very significant way: Like them, she lives with illusions and impossible dreams, but unlike the others, she dies before her hopes are vanquished.

Miss Bobbit is the forerunner of the more famous Holly Golightly of Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958). Miss Bobbit and Holly are restless females, with longings that will never be fulfilled. Each speaks of living in the sky, a metaphor that suggests both freedom and happiness but which also connotes separation from other people. Though the later story contains many of the same themes as the earlier one, it is ultimately more melancholy, for in it the heroine’s dreams are blighted.

Capote portrayed a series of orphan characters, of whom Miss Bobbit is one, even though both of her parents are alive. She never hears from...

(The entire section is 464 words.)