BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, “HOUSE OF FLOWERS,” “A DIAMOND GUITAR,” and “A CHRISTMAS MEMORY” by Truman Capote
While the iconic novella BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S anchors this 50th anniversary multi-piece volume, all four stories included work harmoniously together. The protagonists of BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, “HOUSE OF FLOWERS,” “A DIAMOND GUITAR,” and “A CHRISTMAS MEMORY” each focus on the concept of home. The naive and insightful Holly Golightly seeks out a version of home that is different from Ottilie’s, Mr. Schaeffer’s and Buddy’s, but all four understand the import of finding it.
Holly Golightly is bold and beautiful, enigmatic and distant. When the narrator meets her he, like nearly everyone who crosses her path, is intrigued. Her past and present is revealed throughout the novella and she is ultimately painted as naive, innocent and trying to find home. The concept of having “breakfast at Tiffany’s” motivates Holly on her quest. She warms at the thought of spending time at Tiffany’s, a beautiful place where nothing feels wrong, and hopes to duplicate it everywhere she goes.
In “HOUSE OF FLOWERS,” Ottilie is essentially a Haitian whore who believes she has found love and a home with the arrival soon-to-be husband Royal Bonaparte. Royal Bonaparte reminds Ottilie of herself, he is from Haiti (as opposed to her Domincan co-workers) and connected to country (as opposed to her city-dwelling friends). Faced with the dilemma of staying with the only family she knows, her fellow “workers” Baby and Rosita, Ottilie ultimately chooses her natural home with Royal.
“A DIAMOND GUITAR” explores the theme of home further, introducing the reader to a convict who can only dream of returning it. And reluctantly, dream he does. When Tico Feo arrives with his glittering guitar Mr. Schaeffer cannot help but think of the past life he can never live again. Mr. Schaeffer flirts with the idea of escape with Tico Feo but flounders, extinguishing any hope he could have once harbored of seeing home.
The Capote classic “A CHRISTMAS MEMORY” provides a warm remembrance, reminding the reader at the compilation’s close just what the other three protagonists have been agonizing over. The memory is simple: Buddy and his elderly distant cousin plan for the Christmas holiday, baking fruitcakes for friends and dignitaries (President and Mrs. Roosevelt are recipients of the coveted cakes), chopping down a Christmas tree and making presents for the family. The soul aches at the memory of such fondness and the idea of being tortured over it rings with perfect clarity.
Also connecting the four works is Capote’s unique talent for language. The prose is crafted artfully and the stories are a pleasure to read because of it. Phrases like “the lemony sun” pepper the collection, describing scenes and events with perfection.
BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S is a classic worthy of its own volume, but combined with three of Capote’s best short stories it is especially poignant.