The Motion Picture, Breakfast at Tiffany's
was based on the 1958 Truman Capote
novella of the same name. Truman Capote was incensed at the choice of Audrey Hepburn
to play Holly Golightly in the movie; he had envisioned the role being played by Marilyn Monroe
. Certainly the sex-kitten image of Monroe
would have given the movie a completely different flavor; Holly's risque and edgy personality and lifestyle
were largely overlooked due to the winsome
Hepburn's charm and grace.
The novella takes place some fifteen years after Holly has left New York. An unnamed narrator that Holly calls "Fred" because of his resemblance to her brother and Joe Bell, the proprietor of a local bar sit and reminisce about the girl. The narrator lived upstairs from Holly and knew her as well as anyone else in the story. Both men have been infatuated with Holly, but begin to understand that she was truly a wild thing, like Bizet's Carmen, and what she hated above all was the idea of captivity. Holly has a cat that she refuses to name because she says he doesn't belong to anyone; Holly's relationship to the cat is somewhat representative of all her relationships; she resists the idea of belonging to anyone or staying tied down.
The Novella's title comes from the jewelry store Tiffany & Co., where Holly goes when she gets what she calls the "mean reds". For Holly, the mean reds is a state of anxiety and fear that something awful is going to happen. To remedy that Holly goes to Tiffany's, where she feels nothing really bad could happen to anyone.
Holly was essentially a prostitute, although she did not think of herself in that manner. In the novella, there was always a man passed out in her apartment, or banging on her door asking for another "appointment". The first real conversation Holly has with the narrator is at a late hour when she climbs the fire escape wearing only a robe and asks him if she could stay in his apartment until the man in hers passes out or leaves. Holly's essential attitude about her profession is summed up in the following statement, "I mean, you can't bang a guy and cash his checks and at least not try to believe you love him" .
The narration follows Holly's involvement with several wealthy lovers, including Rusty Trawler, a pudgy closeted homosexual and Jose Ybarra-Yaeger, a wealthy man from Brazil. Although initially smitten with Trawler (and his wealth), Holly ends up romantically involved with Jose. Holly and Jose begin living together and Holly is several weeks pregnant at the denouement of the novella.
Holly believes that Jose is her first "non-rat" relationship, and is happy with him. However, she is jilted by her beau when she gets arrested due to her prison visits to mafia narcotics king, Sally Tomato. Holly has been passing information between Tomato and his associates in the form of coded weather reports. Holly is arrested and loses her baby, and Jose flees the country, horrified at the prospect of scandal.
Holly still has a ticket to Brazil, and decides to leave New York anyway. She asks for a list of the wealthiest men in Brazil and leaves. Unlike the motion picture, the ending of Capote's novella is left open, the narrator and the reader are unsure of what happened to Holly and if she ever found someone she belonged to.