Summary and Analysis
PART V Chapter 12. The Rendezvous Point
The novel circles back to where it started, with Theo hunkered down in the Amsterdam hotel room, terrified of being arrested, and unable to return to New York City because his passport is in Boris’ car. Theo decides to commit suicide and writes letters to the people who mean the most to him. In one such letter to Hobie, Theo compares himself to a sick puppy. In a dream, his mother visits him as an “embodied spirit.” As he is leaving the hotel to commit suicide, Boris shows up. Boris gives Theo a large amount of money and explains how he engineered the successful return of The Goldfinch to the authorities. The money is Theo’s portion of the reward.
Theo, passport in hand, returns to New York City. He tells Hobie the entire story of The Goldfinch and the true extent of his fraudulent practices with the restored antiques. They agree that Theo will use part of the reward money to recover the forgeries sold as originals.
Theo ends the novel at a series of crossroads. Pippa tells him that she loves him but that they will only ever be friends. Theo’s relationship with Kitsey remains unresolved, but the Barbours tell him he’s welcome to be part of their family whenever he’s ready. Theo travels around the world repurchasing the fraudulent antiques he sold and considering his life and future.
In this final chapter, Theo constantly evaluates his personal value, comparing himself to each of his parents and reminding readers how art and relationships have shifted throughout the novel. His self-awareness is heightened as he contemplates committing suicide. He comes to understand and accept both the redemptive and destructive facets of his character. Later in this chapter, Theo is able to reveal his past schemes to Hobie because he has accepted his own personal faults.
When Theo’s mother reveals herself to him in a dream, she is reflected in a mirror; Theo thinks of her as neither dead nor alive but in a place in-between. This use of reflection serves a double meaning: His mother’s image in the mirror represents both her and his past; they exist simultaneously.
Tartt expounds upon a significant literary device in this final chapter, that of the narrator’s (Theo’s) role in telling his own story. First-person narration (“I”) doesn’t always mean that the narrator is also the author, but Theo refers to himself as personally writing the novel’s chapters, which casts a shadow of unreliability on the narrative. Theo is both the storywriter and storyteller, crafting the language as well as the tale. As a result of this revelation, readers must reevaluate the “truth” of everything they’ve read.