Breakfast at Tiffany's Characters

  • Holly Golightly, a free spirit who captivates every man she meets.
  • The narrator, a writer who meets Holly when she climbs through his window one night.
  • Fred, Holly's brother, who dies in the war overseas.
  • Rusty Trawler, a carefree playboy Holly briefly wishes to marry.
  • Jose Ybarra-Jaegar, a Brazilian Holly desperately wants to marry.
  • Doc Golightly, Holly's husband, whom she married when she was fourteen.


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

While the novel focuses upon Holly Golighdy, the defining point of view is that of the unnamed narrator, whom Holly initially calls Fred because he reminds her of her brother. After the original Fred is killed in action during World War II, Holly never uses that name again, referring to the narrator only as Buster. As the frame story establishes, this is a retrospective narrative in which "Fred" recalls not only his friendship with Holly but his own introduction to New York City. Now a successful writer, he recalls his initial attempts to publish his stories— and Holly's distinct lack of enthusiasm for the type of fiction he was writing. Clearly he still feels a kind of affection for her, but he cannot completely approve of her behavior. Even in his youth, he is at heart a conformist, unwilling to flout society's rules as she does, and his reaction to Joe Bell's news suggests that he believes nothing good could have come of her careless disregard for law and convention. Yet there is a kind of kinship between these two outsiders. He also cannot resist the appeal of this free spirit; so, against his better judgment, he helps her evade the law, and—although appalled when she seems to "discard" her cat, he keeps his promise to Holly, searching until he finds the cat and knows that it at least has found a home. By discarding her cat, Holly cuts all her New York ties.

The story truly belongs to Holly Golightly, however. The card on her door identifies her as Holiday Golightly, suggesting an association with both pleasure and freedom. The same card describes her occupation as "Traveling," and that has been the defining pattern of her life. The narrator quickly discovers her reluctance to reveal much of her past; so most of the information he gathers comes from men who have tried to "cage" her—men like the Hollywood agent O. J. Berman and Holly's husband, Doc Golightly. Both of these men represent stopovers in her travels. Berman tells "Fred" that Holly is a phony, but a genuine phony; in other words, her literal identity is not what she says, but on a deeper level her character and personality are precisely as they appear to be. Berman does not understand why Holly has refused to try for success in Hollywood, but since her life is already a role, she is unwilling to assume other roles as acting would require. Doc Golightly seems to understand Holly somewhat better; and, for that reason, she feels some affection for him, but he cannot separate the New York "escort" from Lulamae Barnes, the young girl who came to his ranch in...

(The entire section is 1037 words.)