The Goldfinch
Donna Tartt
Contributed by Ariane Heyne
Chapter 6

This chapter highlights Theo’s changing relationship with his father and Boris. On one hand, Theo’s father begins experiencing money problems and his relationship with Theo starts to improve. As Theo narrates, his father started spending most of the daytime at home; hanging out with him, which Theo enjoyed. At one point, Theo’s father forced him to call his late mother’s attorney to ask for money from a fund his mother has set in the name of Theo. Here, Theo realizes the motive behind his father’s reunion with him was to gain access to his trust fund. Soon, however, Theo’s father dies in a drink driving accident.

Meanwhile, the relationship between Theo and Boris becomes severed when the latter starts dating girls. Boris gives his undivided attention to a girl from their school, and naturally begins to have little time for Theo. Bored and aware of the possibility of being placed under children care services, Theo steals money from Xandra and boards a bus to New York. He brings along The Goldfinch. In New York, Theo meets Mr. Barbour but finds him to be mentally confused and agitated; and ultimately decides to go to Hobie’s place instead. On arrival into New York, Theo calls Xandra to inform her that he has left Las Vegas, and that he is safely back in New York. The two engage in a heated argument, with each side accusing one another of being a thief before Theo ends the call.


In Las Vegas, Theo meets a boy with whom they share circumstances. Just like Theo, Boris had abusing and non-caring parents. The companionship with Boris makes Theo forget his earlier ambitions, including his mother’s previous expectations that he would attend school. He indulges in heavy drinking and begins to think that there is no way he can change his fate/destiny. Theo’s idea of abandoning his ambitions could also have been motivated by his discovery that his trust fund had substantial money. The mention of this fund is also important because it brings out the sharp contrast between the two parents’ plans for their child. On one hand, Theo’s mother is caring and loving, which explains why she set aside a fund for her son’s future use. On the other hand, Theo’s father is selfish because he wants to take away the money that is meant for his kid’s future.

The Goldfinch continues to be Theo’s source of comfort and concern in Chapter Six. However, rather than loving the painting because of its monetary and cultural values, Theo believes that the painting is significant because it reminds him of his mother’s death. The fact that the bird is chained is symbolic of Theo’s circumstances. So long as the bird is chained and that he owns the painting, Theo would not break away from chaos and confusion that has become characteristic of his life since his mother’s death. However, The Goldfinch also gives Theo a sense of security, comfort, and purpose in life. His priority is to protect it; not to enjoy it.

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