Breakfast at Tiffany's

"Breakfast at Tiffany's" Summary

By Sarah Gristwood

performing arts | 194 pages | Published in 2011

A celebration of a timeless classic, this companion volume, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the release of the iconic film, is the perfect book for any fan of Audrey Hepburn or the cinema. This gorgeously illustrated tribute to Breakfast at Tiffany's is the only official companion to be published in association with Paramount Pictures and the Audrey Hepburn estate. It celebrates the film's ongoing popularity:complete with candid behind-the-scenes photos, facsimiles of the shooting script, full-color reproductions of the poster art, a special section on the costumes, the score for Moon River, and much more. Many of the illustrations included have never been published before. Breakfast at Tiffany's features a top-notch cast, including George Peppard, Mickey Rooney, and Patricia Neal, yet Holly Golightly was the role that transformed Audrey Hepburn into a movie icon. Dressed by Hubert de Givenchy, directed by the infamous Blake Edwards, and brandishing the trademark cigarette holder, hers was the most memorable role. Rich in detail and in illustration, this keepsake tribute volume is the perfect celebration of a beloved classic.


Estimated read time: 7 min read


In this book summary, we will dive into Truman Capote's masterpiece, "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Published in 1958, this novella has become a classic in American literature and has captivated readers for decades. Set in New York City during the 1940s, the story revolves around the enigmatic Holly Golightly, a captivating and audacious young woman who leads an unconventional and mysterious life. With its vivid portrayal of love, loneliness, and the pursuit of freedom, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" offers a timeless exploration of human desires and the complexities of relationships.

Brief Synopsis

The novella is narrated by an unnamed writer who becomes infatuated with Holly Golightly, a free-spirited young woman who lives in the same brownstone apartment building in Manhattan. Holly is an unconventional character who captivates everyone she meets with her zest for life and air of mystery. Throughout the story, the narrator unravels the secrets of Holly's past while highlighting the complexities of their relationship and the underlying themes of love, loss, and identity.

The setting of the story is primarily in New York City, specifically in the vibrant neighborhood of Manhattan. The backdrop of the city is significant as it reflects the fast-paced and glamorous lifestyle that Holly longs for, while also highlighting the loneliness and rootlessness that can exist within such an environment.

Main Characters

Holly GolightlyA young, captivating, and audacious woman with a mysterious past
NarratorThe unnamed writer who becomes infatuated with Holly
FredThe narrator's friend and Holly's neighbor
Mag WildwoodHolly's best friend and roommate
Rusty TrawlerA wealthy man who is interested in Holly
José Ybarra-JaegarA Brazilian diplomat who falls in love with Holly
Doc GolightlyHolly's estranged husband

Summary of Story Points

1A Diamond GuitarThe narrator is introduced to Holly Golightly, a young woman who lives in his apartment building. Holly is an unusual and captivating character who makes a living by entertaining wealthy men. The narrator becomes intrigued by Holly and starts to learn more about her mysterious background.
2House of FlowersThe narrator and Holly spend time together, and he learns about her desire to find a suitable husband who can provide her with security. Holly's best friend and roommate, Mag Wildwood, plays a significant role in her life. The chapter explores the complex relationships between Holly, the narrator, and Mag, while also shedding light on Holly's aspirations and vulnerabilities.
3A sun Also RisesHolly becomes involved with Rusty Trawler, a wealthy man, as she continues her pursuit for financial security. However, her heart is captured by José Ybarra-Jaegar, a Brazilian diplomat. Holly's love interests and relationships become a major theme in this chapter, as they reflect her conflicting desires and the challenges she faces in finding genuine love and stability.
4The Cocktail PartyHolly's relationship with José Ybarra-Jaegar reaches a turning point as she realizes that he cannot offer her the secure future she desires. The narrator struggles with his own feelings for Holly but eventually accepts that they can never be together. Holly's life takes an unexpected turn, leading to a deeper exploration of her true identity, her past, and her desires.
5A Christmas MemoryThe novella takes a nostalgic detour as the narrator reminisces about a childhood Christmas spent with his distant relatives. This chapter offers a glimpse into the narrator's own search for love, connection, and a sense of belonging. The theme of loneliness is pervasive throughout the narrative, affecting both Holly and the narrator as they navigate their complex emotions and pursue their individual quests for happiness.
6The Rubber RoseThe final chapter focuses on Holly's relationship with Doc Golightly, her estranged husband. As Holly confronts her past and wrestles with her own identity, she gains a deeper understanding of herself and her desires. The chapter explores the themes of self-discovery, acceptance, and the sometimes painful journey of finding one's true self.

Main Events

  1. The introduction of Holly Golightly and her mysterious background.
  2. Exploring Holly's relationships with the narrator, Mag Wildwood, and her search for a suitable husband.
  3. Holly's involvement with wealthy men such as Rusty Trawler and her attraction to José Ybarra-Jaegar.
  4. A turning point in Holly's relationship with José and the narrator's acceptance that they can never be together.
  5. A nostalgic detour as the narrator shares a childhood Christmas memory, highlighting themes of love and loneliness.
  6. Holly's journey of self-discovery and her confrontations with Doc Golightly, her estranged husband.

Themes and Insights

  1. Love and Loneliness: Truman Capote vividly explores the complexities of love and the loneliness that can accompany it. Holly's search for love and security reflects the universal desire for human connection, while the narrator's own longing for companionship adds depth to the narrative. The theme of loneliness permeates the story, capturing the challenges people face in forging meaningful relationships.
  2. Identity and Self-Discovery: Holly Golightly's character is a complex mix of authenticity and facade. As the story unfolds, readers delve into Holly's true identity, her past, and the search for her own sense of self. This theme resonates with individuals who, like Holly, explore their own identities and grapple with societal expectations.
  3. Pursuit of Freedom: The novella contemplates the idea of freedom and the various ways individuals strive to attain it. Holly's fearless and unconventional lifestyle represents her quest for personal freedom, even if it means sacrificing stability. Capote encourages readers to question societal norms and embrace their own pursuit of freedom.

Reader's Takeaway

"Breakfast at Tiffany's" is a captivating novella that dives into themes of love, identity, and the pursuit of freedom. Through the enigmatic character of Holly Golightly, readers are transported into a world of glamour, loneliness, and self-discovery. Truman Capote's beautiful prose and intricate storytelling provide readers with a timeless tale that lingers long after the final page.


Truman Capote's "Breakfast at Tiffany's" transcends time as a classic piece of literature that delves into the complexities of human relationships and the pursuit of personal freedom. Through the enigmatic Holly Golightly, Capote examines the themes of love, loneliness, identity, and self-discovery. Readers are left with a sense of longing and introspection as they reflect on their own desires and the challenges of navigating the intricacies of love and personal authenticity. "Breakfast at Tiffany's" remains a timeless masterpiece that continues to captivate readers with its vibrant characters and profound insights into the human experience.