Literary Archetypes: Holly Golightly Would Win the Hunger Games


*Warning: Lots of 60 year old spoilers. 

I have family and friends in the Midwest that I haven’t seen in two years, and I have teachers on the East Coast that I haven’t studied with for about that long either, but it’s the new Breakfast at Tiffany’s play on Broadway that has me pricing Greyhound tickets—especially since it’s supposed to be, like a zillion times more true to Truman Capote’s original novella than the Audrey Hepburn movie was (I love Audrey, and I do really like that movie, it’s just way different from the book is all).

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is basically the same exact story as Sally Bowles. Like, right down to some of the dialogue even (which isn’t too surprising since Capote used to hang with Christopher Isherwood), but I actually like Tiffany’s better—mainly because the characters are more interesting, and  it’s just SO FUCKING WELL WRITTEN. If I had to pick a favorite writer, based solely on his/her talent for writing, I’d pick Truman Capote. I mean, when he describes a chair—a god. damn. chair.—I’m like, GIVE THIS MAN ALL OF THE PULITZERS FOREVER!!!!! And Breakfast at Tiffany’s (henceforth referred to as B @ T’s) is my favorite story of his (which probably makes me the worst Capote fangirl ever, since that’s basically the one Capote story that everybody’s read), but it’s my favorite because it’s this rare combination of great story telling and great writing. Like, try to imagine The Hunger Games without the awkward sentences, and constant summarizing of key plot points. Or a Jane Austen novel that’s not boring. It’s like that.

The thing is though, even though B @ T‘s is really similar to Sally Bowles (manic pixie dream girl’s big city adventures, as told by introverted BFF), Holly is not Sally. Where I want to give Sally a hug, and drink raw eggs with her in solidarity, I’m pretty sure that Holly Golightly would destroy me. Holly is the type of person that would steal your boyfriend, and your favorite shoes, and then show up at the place where you work, with your boyfriend, and wearing your shoes. Really, she’s not very nice. Like Sally Bowles, Holly takes advantage of people a lot, but with Sally it comes more from a place of not recognizing her own privilege, and thinking, “duh, of course these guys will do whatever I say; why the hell wouldn’t they? But Holly has a totally different backstory, and she doesn’t wear the same privilege goggles as Sally. Holly is way more calculating—which is actually pretty badass. She does what she does because she is a mother. fucking. SURVIVOR.  Holly Golightly would win the Hunger Games.

Even though I would be totally afraid of Holly in real life, I also kind of want to be her. Like, in the same way I want to be a Disney villain sometimes (shout out to Maleficent—I love your cool hat with the horns, and your sweet-ass cape with the purple lining!) Holly has a lot of qualities that I admire, and besides the fact that she’s mean, and she uses people a lot, I really have learned a lot from her. The the Guru Tattva, as illustrated in the story of Dattatreyas’ 24 gurus in the Indian scripture, the Bhagwatam Purana (yes, I went there. YOGA!!!!), says that anyone, and anything can be your teacher if you let it, so why not Holly?

SO. In that vein, here are ten important life lessons that I’ve learned from Holly Golightly:

You don’t really ever have to do laundry.
Holly sucks at doing laundry. I get it, because I suck at doing laundry too.
I tend to approach the issue by either:
a. sucking it up and doing the laundry
b. buying new clothes in the name of laundry avoidance

Holly has other ideas, including:
a. asking your best frenemy to move in, and hope she sends your laundry out for you
b. remembering that clothing is overrated. Just wear a towel to the party, and call it good

Holly’s solutions are both money-saving and do not involve the doing of actual laundry. Clearly superior to mine.

Hard times call for fabulous lipstick
When Holly is the hospital, recovering from a miscarriage that nearly kills her (and also, she’s probably going to jail), and about to read the world’s shittiest breakup note from Jose Ybarra-Jaeger—presumed future president of Brazil (with the world’s coolest name), she asks for her purse first, so she can put on some lipstick.

A girl just doesn’t read this sort of thing without her lipstick.

DAMN RIGHT SHE DOESN’T. A good lipstick, or quality gloss is essential, always, but especially when things suck .I like Smashbox’s “It Girl.” I think Holly would approve.

Sunglasses. Always.
Capote’s Holly Golightly was not outfitted by Givenchy (and unfortunately, neither am I) , but she was “never without dark glasses,” and wore simple clothes in colors that worked for her (in Holly’s case, blues and greys). Seriously, sun glasses are the shit, and while I live in Portland, where it’s cloudy most of the time, you never know when the sun will pop out and totally take you by surprise! So really, sunglasses are always appropriate. Also, you can totally get super-cute Holly-like shades at H&M for like, ten bucks (cheaper in the off seasons!) Also, if you always wear sunglasses, you don’t have to bother with eye makeup either! And if you’re like me and you have tiny eyes, but are not Renée Zellweger (the only person allowed to have tiny eyes, according to the beauty blogs), NO ONE HAS TO KNOW. EVER.

The art of a good swear
Holly has a lot of good ones—including, the simple, yet hilarious expletive, “oh, balls!” But nothing—nothing will ever beat “gee, golly goddamn!” Especially in context:

“But oh gee, golly goddamn,” she said, jamming a fist into her mouth like a bawling baby, “I did love him. The rat.


If you’re arrested in a narcotics scandal, talk about God, and why marijuana is superior to brandy. But then save face and say that you like brandy better.
Do I really need to explain this one?

If you want people to think you’re smart and sophisticated, say things in French! (Also, it doesn’t have to be good, or accurate French. Americans won’t know the difference)
Holly just kind of haphazardly says things in French sometimes. Like, for no reason, other than to be awesome. She’s had French lessons, and she PUTS THEM TO USE. I’ve had four years of French. Not semesters, but YEARS (two in high school, and two in college), and I’m still too scared to order an  “au chocolat,” because I’m worried that I won’t pronounce “chocolat” correctly. This, was an actual thing that happened recently:
Me: “Listen. I really want to order a cafe au lait with chocolate sauce in it. I know what it’s called, but I’m afraid that I’ll either sound really American or really affected if I try to say it…so, can I just have one…of those…twelve ounces…with rice milk, please?
Barista: “You mean an aww chaw-klit?” [That’s how she pronounced it. “aww chaw-klit.”]

See, Holly would’ve owned that shit.

Try the Holly Golightly Diet
Melba toast, cottage cheese, and/or a fuck-ton of liquor for every meal.
Actually, don’t do this. You’d probably die. Just read Skinny Bitch instead, or something.

Spay or neuter your pet (even if your pet is an independent, like you)
Holly is a dick to her cat. Like, really really awful. Except for when she realizes it, and tries to find the cat after she already told it to fuck off (her exact words) and tossed it out of a car, but unlike in the movie, Holly doesn’t find the cat right away, so she makes her BFF (whom she calls “Fred,” even though that’s probably not actually his name) promise to find it, and take care of it while she moves to Brazil (Holly is a dick to her friends too). BFF “Fred” finds the cat eventually, but not for weeks. Weeks. Now, I don’t know that Holly neutered the cat. She probably didn’t, because she was Holly and it was the 40s…but, you know, she should have.

Have a solid plan B
After getting dumped via awful breakup letter by Jose, Holly asks BFF Fred to call up the Times, or whatever you call, and get a list of the fifty richest men in Brazil. Audrey Hepburn says this line in the movie too,but in the movie-version of B @ T’s, it’s said in desperation—like, movie-Holly really knows that the guy from the A-team is the one for her, she just can’t bring herself to admit it, so she adorably shrieks, “find me the fifty richest men in Brazil!” because she doesn’t know what else to say or something. But book-Holly is seriously, like, this is legitimately her plan. She is not kidding. 

People don’t belong to people
OK, this one is cheating, because this line is from the movie, not the book, but it is so much more book-Hollyesque than movie-Hollyesque, that I for real thought it was in the book, until I actually looked for it this afternoon and found that it wasn’t. And, OK, I know the point here is supposed to be that Holly is a commitment phobe or something, but screw that, people don’t belong to people. In fact, a lot of really horrible things happen as a result of people thinking that other people belong to them. Like, it’s good to love people, to care about people, to be kind to people, but not to, you know, own people. That’s creepy. It reminds me of when Chris Brown said he owned Rhianna’s vagina. Remember that? Like, two weeks ago, when everyone was talking about that?
Let’s be the opposite of that, OK? Here’s a great poem by Kahlil Gibran about not owning people. Let’s be like Kahil Gibran.
Also, ALSO, after movie-Holly says that awesome thing about people not belonging to people, and Hannibal Smith is all, “yes they do!” You know what movie-Holly should have done? She should have said “screw you!” and hooked up with Greta Garbo or Nehru (the two people that book-Holly describes as her romantic ideal).


Right on. 


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