Literary Analysis: Boris and Theo in The Goldfinch

I’m back on my bullshit. Even came up with a new category for it. More Goldfinch spoilers ahead. Yes, I do have a problem, shut up.


I don’t think I even have to touch on Kitsey. We all know that Theo didn’t love her. Whether it was for Mrs. Barbour, or comphet, or whatever I don’t know, but that relationship was NOT out of love.

I hear all of you in the back. “Meeehhhh… But what about Pippaaaa…” NO SHUT UP YOU’RE WRONG. That’s why I’m writing this post. Theo’s emotion towards Pippa was obsession and addiction (oh hello theme how did you get in here), it wasn’t love.

From the very beginning, Pippa is associated with drugs with her morphine lollipop. I don’t remember if it was in the book or not, but Theo’s first experience with drugs not prescribed to him was through her as she gave him a taste of the medicinal candy. It was even red too, which is pretty well established as Pippa’s color. Theo ends up having serious addiction problems for anyone not absolutely obsessed with The Goldfinch like me, and from the beginning Pippa is linked to prescription drugs and, by extension, Theo’s tendency towards addiction.

When I was reading The Goldfinch I was struck by how deeply unhealthy Theo’s attitude towards Pippa was. He was immensely jealous of her boyfriend, obsessively thinking of her all the time, buying her elaborate and expensive things and not giving them to her half the time, and in general just being completely weird. (Sorry Theo) Pippa was fine, she was very self-aware and pointed out that the two of them couldn’t be together because of their shared intense highs and lows. You go Pippa. But Theo… that boy had problems.

Boris was the only love interest where Theo acted like a normal human being. As kids they got into trouble and stuff, but it was never anything serious. It was never linked to Boris thematically like Pippa giving Theo his first experience with drugs in a quiet and major moment. Pippa was Theo’s first exposure to addiction. Boris was just a relationship from the beginning.

Another counterargument to this post: Theo had… intimate relations with other women. Boris was his first which I feel like says something else thematically but I’m not smart enough for that. Also this is a school blog so I can’t really touch on that too much. Anyway: that isn’t synonymous with love either. Theo displays no fondness or tenderness towards any of these women. He had the physical intimacy with Boris, but also the tender side of love that Theo doesn’t show with any of the women he mentions. I’d be willing to bet that Theo didn’t give any of them soft kisses goodbye like when he left Vegas.

Who’s there to save Theo when he’s about to die at the end? Boris. Who chases Theo in the street and gives him an emotional monologue about how amazing it is that they were brought together again? Boris. WHO WAS THE ONLY PERSON THAT THEO THEMATICALLY AND CONTEXTUALLY LOVED???


Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

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