Breakfast at Tiffany's Themes

  • Holly Golightly and the narrator represents the conflict between freedom and stability. This is the central theme of the novella, and Holly's character is built entirely around the fact that she's always moving, searching for a place to call home. It's unclear whether or not she finds one.
  • Ultimately, money emerges as one of the most important themes in the novella, as it governs Holly's major life choices. Her desire to marry rich, for instance, prioritizes money over love, which isn't a significant factor for Holly when it comes to dating or marriage.
  • The past plays an important role in the narrative. Essentially, the novella is a collection of reminiscences about Holly Golightly, whose dark past is revealed when her estranged husband, Doc Golightly, reveals to the narrator that Holly was orphaned as a child and abused by her foster father.


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The primary theme of Breakfast at Tiffany's is the search for connections with people and places; the outsider stands with nose pressed against the glass, wanting what is inside. As the narrator—now a New York insider—describes his first New York apartment, it is far from luxurious or elegant, but for him it is associated with personal freedom. Here he began his career as a writer, and here he became acquainted with Holly Golightly. If he considers himself settled in his apartment, Holly is precisely the opposite; she is the perpetual outsider, marginally accepted, but never quite belonging. The card on her door reads "Miss Holiday Golightly, Traveling," and her apartment is furnished with packing crates. She refuses to "own" anything, even her cat, until she believes she is settled. The narrator cannot pinpoint her place of origin, and eventually he learns that she has lived in Texas, California, Brazil, Argentina, and perhaps even Africa. So far as he can determine, years later when he writes about her, she may still be traveling, looking for the place she can make her permanent home. In contrast, the narrator seems to consider himself settled in New York.

Holly's connections with people likewise seem less than permanent. Before she and the narrator become acquainted, she seems to have no friends; a variety of wealthy men visit her, but she keeps all of them at an emotional distance, apparently more interested in the money they can supply...

(The entire section is 549 words.)