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One of the most unique things about your novella is the absence of chapters and also the significance of the setting. Was that a conscious decision? How does the setting and structure impact how the audience read the novel? The presentation of the novella as one continuous story was intentional so that the audience are easily able to become engrossed in the excitement of Holly Golightly’s life. Its non-linear structure of starting in the present and then reflecting on the past frames the entire narrative to follow a first person past-tense narrator reminiscing about his friendship with Holly.
Moreover, setting the novel in New York during World War II was a conscious decision because not only did I live in this revolutionary period in America as an unpublished young writer, like the narrator, but this setting also adds an exciting background to the story. As such, Holly’s eccentric character is essential to the societal changes, which took place during the 1940’s, when women began to gain independence they had not formerly shared with men. Thus, setting the novel in a significant historical period where society was changing drastically, challenges the audience to question how they perceive the key themes presented. Much of the action occurs in or around the Brownstone apartment in the East Seventies. This physical setting adds meaning to the novel, as it is in this apartment building where the narrator and Holly meet, their friendship develops, and their conflicts and memories are created. Additionally, Holly’s apartment is a vital location as it is here the audience learn about the transience that surrounds her character. For example, she is not concerned about furnishing her apartment. In fact, “the room in which we stood…seemed as though it were just being moved into…Suitcases and unpacked crates were the only furniture”.
Overall, the structure and physical setting influence how the audience distinguish between different kinds of love that can both enhance and destroy relationships, the definition of a genuine friendship and the importance of belonging and stability. 2. Throughout the novella, Holly remains completely isolated from anything that could represent personal attachment. How true is this statement? Holly is to some extent completely isolated, as her yearning to remain unconstrained by close personal relationships is blatant. Isolation is a central theme within the novel that acts as a destructive force to keep Holly from getting hurt. This can be seen when Holly tells the narrator, “she and the cat sort of just took up by the river one day, we don’t belong to each other: he’s an independent and so am I”. As such, her reluctance to even claim the cat as her own not only emphasises her desire for isolation, but also her unwillingness to settle down with anything that could present any complicated attachments to anyone. Holly’s name change carries symbolic meaning and therefore plays an important role in emphasising the theme of isolation. For example, Holly’s real name is Lulamae Barnes, however her name slot in the mailbox since moving into the Brownstone apartment in New York reads “Miss Holiday Golightly, Travelling”. Holly’s name not only indicates her free-spirited personality, but also her attempt at making a holiday out of her life by travelling wherever she pleases in order to escape her past. Her name change also signifies how “lightly” she thinks about any potential consequences or “heavy” situations. Thus, her reckless actions including inconveniencing others such as Mag Wildwood to acquire what she desires, causes her personal relationships to become meaningless. This statement is partially true, as Holly does crave isolation, however her complete seclusion also proves to be a great source of fear as she realises that everyone desires a sense of stability at some point in one’s life. At the end of the novel, she recognises that “she and the cat did belong to each other!” Despite Holly’s character changing and developing over time, her ultimate neglect of putting down roots inhibits her from deepening relationships with those she encounters.
The story is told solely from the narrator’s perspective, however, the audiences’ understanding of Holly stems from his interactions with other characters. Can you comment on this and any other creative choices made in the construction of your novel?
Even though the novel is framed around the narrator’s experiences with Holly in New York, he is not the central character. As such, he can be considered more as an important literary device for the audience to focus solely on the mysterious Holly. Reading the narrator’s descriptions of Holly not only allows the audience to visualise her through his eyes, but also this perspective enables the readers to question how beneficial and disadvantageous it is to tell the story through an unnamed narrator. Other creative choices made in the construction of the novel are the use of imagery, allegory and symbolism. The narrator depicts Holly as “wearing a slim cool black dress, black sandals, a pearl choker…an almost breakfast-cereal air of health”. This vivid picture created by the narrator’s first encounter with Holly captures the readers into Holly’s world and is critical for the audience’s first impressions of her. There is symbolism present in the antique birdcage Holly gives the narrator as a Christmas present on the condition that he never puts anything living inside of it. This is because she “cannot bear to see anything in a cage”. The birdcage ultimately represents the confinement Holly struggles so hard against. Her distaste for the captivity of wild things is also evident when she sings, “don’t wanna sleep. Don’t wanna die, Just wanna go a-travellin’ through the pastures of the sky”. Similarly, an allegory has been used when Holly’s husband, Doc Golightly tames wild creatures until they are strong enough to fly or run away into the woods. This shares double meaning to demonstrate how Holly constantly travels to escape feeling caged in like a bird that is too wild for living a monotonous domestic life.
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