Belonging – Thoughts from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and Elder Bruce C. Hafen

Elder Hafen was dean of my law school, I took three semesters of classes from him, I’ve read several of his books, listened to many of his talks.  Last night, watching “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” my mind shot to a memorable portion from one of his talks.  So, below, first a quote from the film, then a quote from Elder Hafen.

1. Quote from Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961):

Paul Varjak: I love you.

Holly Golightly: So what.

Paul Varjak: So what? So plenty! I love you, you belong to me!

Holly Golightly: [tearfully] No. People don’t belong to people.

Paul Varjak: Of course they do!

Holly Golightly: I’ll never let ANYBODY put me in a cage.

Paul Varjak: I don’t want to put you in a cage, I want to love you!

Holly Golightly: I’m like cat here, a no-name slob. We belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to us. We don’t even belong to each other.

Paul Varjak: You know what’s wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You’re chicken, you’ve got no guts. You’re afraid to stick out your chin and say, “Okay, life’s a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that’s the only chance anybody’s got for real happiness.” You call yourself a free spirit, a “wild thing,” and you’re terrified somebody’s gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you’re already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it’s not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.

[takes out the ring and throws it in Holly’s lap]

Paul Varjak: Here. I’ve been carrying this thing around for months. I don’t want it anymore.

2. Quote from Covenant Marriage – Elder Bruce C. Hafen – General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – October 1996: A seven-year-old girl came home from school crying, “Mom, don’t I belong to you? Our teacher said today that nobody belongs to anybody—children don’t belong to parents, husbands don’t belong to wives. I am yours, aren’t I, Mom?” Her mother held her close and whispered, “Of course you’re mine—and I’m yours, too.” Surely marriage partners must respect one another’s individual identity, and family members are neither slaves nor inanimate objects. But this teacher’s fear, shared today by many, is that the bonds of kinship and marriage are not valuable ties that bind, but are, instead, sheer bondage. Ours is the age of the waning of belonging.

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