Summary and Analysis
PART V Chapter 11. The Gentleman’s Canal
Theo and Boris travel to Amsterdam to recover the painting. At the café where the exchange is to occur, one of Boris’ associates attacks the group and takes the painting by brute force. Soon after, Theo and Boris are confronted by two men—one of whom Boris identifies as a man named Martin—and a young boy whom Theo had seen at the café. Martin takes the painting from Boris, but a chaotic shootout ensues. Boris is wounded and the two men are killed, Martin at the hands of Theo. The young boy makes off with the painting.
Boris drives Theo away from the scene toward Theo’s hotel. Boris gives Theo a small amount of heroin and leaves. Theo makes it back to the hotel and stays in his room, existing solely on the drugs from Boris. He drifts in and out of lucid and vivid dreams.
When Theo is briefly reunited with The Goldfinch, he compares his own existence to that of the masterpiece. He recognizes that he is but a small part of the painting’s storied history and that the painting itself represents the immortality of art, which has a life outside of the experience of a single viewer or owner.
Slowly recovering from the trauma of killing Martin, Theo begins to dream of, see, and feel ghostly apparitions. Andy “visits” him, but this visit serves only to show Theo that people from his past no longer have a significant impact on his life. He is struggling to define who he is and ultimately wants to be. His lack of purpose haunts him the most.