Study Guide

Breakfast at Tiffany's Chapter 11

By Truman Capote

Chapter 11

  • The narrator is on the subway when he sees a newspaper headline announcing that Rusty Trawler has married for the fourth time. He assumes that the lucky girl is Holly, and the thought of this makes him wish he was "under the wheels of the train" (11.1). He's also depressed because he lost his job (he won't tell us why) and can't find a new one, he hasn't seen Holly in weeks, and the draft board has been contacting him. And he finally admits that he is also in love with Holly, "a little" (11.1).
  • When he buys his own newspaper and gets to read the rest of the headline, he sees that Rusty has married Mag, not Holly. He's incredibly relieved about this and heads home, but when he gets there he's met with a disturbing scene.
  • Madame Spanella, one of the tenants in the building, runs into the narrator and screams at him to get the police since Holly "is killing somebody! [Or] somebody is killing her!" (11.3). He runs to Holly's apartment and bangs on the door. This stops the ruckus inside her apartment, but she still won't open the door.
  • Shortly after, José arrives with a doctor and lets himself into the apartment with his key. The place is destroyed. The Christmas tree has been torn apart, broken lamps and records litter the floor, the food from the refrigerator has been thrown everywhere, and Holly has broken all of her perfume bottles. Holly's dark glasses are also broken on the floor, "the lenses already shattered, the frames cracked in half" (11.8).
  • Holly's now lying on her bed, and she doesn't seem to recognize José or to even notice the doctor. The doctor asks Holly if she wants to go to sleep, and when she touches her head, she "leav[es] a smear of blood from a cut finger" (11.10). She starts talking about something that the rest of them don't understand: "He's the only one would ever let me. Let me hug him on cold nights. I saw a place in Mexico. With horses. By the sea" (11.10).
  • The doctor thinks this is just incoherent mumbling and he injects Holly with a sedative to calm her down. In the meantime, José is trying to understand what's wrong with Holly, and he finally realizes that she's acting like this because of grief. The doctor asks for everyone to leave the room, and José asks the narrator to go have a drink with him.
  • He tells the narrator that he's worried "that this [episode with Holly] should cause scandal" (11.19) and that it could damage his political career. He then tells the narrator what actually happened, that Holly was drinking and started throwing the things in her apartment "when the sadness came" (11.21). The narrator thinks that Holly's upset about Rusty and Mag's marriage, but José reveals that he and Holly, who are in a relationship, are thrilled when their significant others take off together. It's clearly not Rusty and Mag's nuptials that makes Holly so upset.
  • We then learn what has really caused Holly to react in such a way. José hands the narrator a crumpled telegram that reads: "Received notice young Fred killed in action overseas stop your husband and children join in the sorrow of our mutual loss stop letter follows love Doc" (11.26). What everyone takes as mumbling is Holly remembering how Fred was the only one who let her snuggle close to him on cold nights, and she's grieving the loss of her brother.