The Goldfinch
Donna Tartt
Contributed by Ariane Heyne
Chapter 9

Chapter Nine jumps eight years from events of the previous chapter, and presents Theo as an adult. Still living with Hobie, Theo has honed his antique restoration skills and is now a partner in Hobie’s business. Theo has assumed the role of a salesman, an area that Hobie is not talented in. He has since acquired substantial knowledge about antiques and has created a clever scam without Hobie’s knowledge. The scam involves selling Hobie’s restorations in addition to the genuine antiques that they sell, passing those restorations off as authentic work. Despite Theo’s salesmanship fooling even experts, one man — known as Lucius Reeve — catches Theo’s deceptiveness and decides to hound him. Meanwhile, Theo reunites with the Barbours after he learns that Mr. Barbour and Andy, his elementary school friend, had drowned in a sea accident while sailing. He visits Mrs. Barbour and stays in contact with her and the rest of the family.

Theo continues with his alcoholism and drug addiction, a behavior that began with Boris while he was in Las Vegas. He also spends a lot of his money on pills. One day, he visits his mother’s former favorite bench at Central Park and finds the inscription “Everything of Possibility”. Later, Theo meets Lucius Reeve and is shocked to learn that he wants them to discuss The Goldfinch. Unknown to Theo, Lucius has been piecing together clues from news articles that linked the disappearance of the painting to a crime ring that operates internationally and has reasons to believe that Theo is in possession of the masterpiece. Though he is confident that Lucius knows nothing about the masterpiece, Theo gets nervous and tells Hobie about The Goldfinch. But Theo cannot reveal the true extent of the scam, of which will make Hobie distraught.


Despite having grown into an adult, Theo is still struggling with impulses of childhood. For example, on hearing that Andy’s younger brother, Platt, still calls his parents “Daddy and Mommy”, Theo concludes that vulnerability and neglect can plague even the privileged. This chapter also depicts a scam-obsessed Theo, who realizes that he could make extra money by selling restored antiques as originals. He targets the most arrogant and conceited customers and uses his wit to humble them without their knowledge.

The title of Chapter Nine, “Everything of Possibility,” refers to the inscriptions on the bench that Theo’s mother loved. Sitting on that bench, Theo uses his drugs and scatters ashes on it. His mother, on the other hand, used the bench for relaxation. Ideally, the inscription, and the comparison of activities that Theo and his mother carried out on the bench, shows that Theo’s life is still at a crossroads despite having become an adult. And as an adult, Theo is struggling with drugs, and is making attempts to reconnect with the Barbours. He is yet to find a lifestyle that suits him.

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