The Goldfinch
Donna Tartt

by contributor

Sharon Fleming

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Overview
Author
Donna Tartt
Year Published
2013
Type
Fiction
Genre
Novel
About the Title

Growing up in a world where threats of terrorism and other crimes are highly prevalent can have devastating effects on one?s life (Judah, 2017). This is the situation that Donna Tartt attempts to capture in her novel, The Goldfinch. Published in 2013, The Goldfinch chronicles the events in the life of Theodore ?Theo? Decker. At the young and tender age of 13, Theo lost his mother through a terrorist attack when an explosion occurred at New York?s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The mother-and-son duo had visited the museum to attend an exhibition on Dutch masterpieces of art and architecture. Subsequently, the ensuing explosion killed Theo?s mother, along with many others. Among the wreckage, Theo noticed a dying old man who advised him to steal The Goldfinch, a good-looking painting he had earlier admired from one of the museum?s galleries. The man also gave Theo a mysterious ring. Little did he know that these two items would eventually, and progressively, take a heavy toll on his life.

During this very same time, Theo encountered a red-headed girl named Pippa and fell in love with her at first sight. He describes the girl as a cool, serious beauty who had bright red hair and whose movements were swift and well-calculated. Other individuals who Theo became acquainted with, and who have great influence on his eventual life, are Larry (his dad), Xandra (his dad?s girlfriend) ? both of which are living in Las Vegas, and Boris, a friend who Theo meets in Las Vegas. There is also Andy Barbour (Theo?s elementary school friend) and Hobie (an antique restorer). After his mother?s death, Theo goes through a turbulent life journey that is characterized by grief, confusion, fear, and endless challenges as he tries to forge a meaningful life. His biggest challenge was trying to keep The Goldfinch as a secret while living in other people?s homes. He believes that his life would have turned out better if his mother had survived the explosion.

The title of the book is derived from the painting that Theo steals from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Goldfinch. Theo had admired this painting when he was going around the museum?s galleries with his mother. Though he had not initially contemplated stealing it, the dying old man named Welty hinted to Theo to steal it in the midst of the confusion following the explosion. The death of Larry, Theo?s father, through a drink driving accident, led to Theo becoming homeless, and his efforts at hiding the painting from all people he lives with. At some point, Boris manages to steal the painting and trades it away. Although Boris and Theo later retrieves it from Amsterdam, they eventually lose it again. The story ends with The Goldfinch back in the possession of its original owner, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  

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