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Lara Ann Villanueva Summer Work 2016

AP English Literature period 5 Mr. Schneider

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: Part 3 Questions
1. What sensory information do you find in the language: color, scents, sounds, tastes, or
Donna Tartt utilizes all of the above types of sensory information within her novel
The Goldfinch. In Chapter 1, Theodore, Welty, Pippa and his mother get caught in the
explosion, a combination of sound, heat and sights describe the explosion. The next
instant, a tremendous, earsplitting blast shook the room At almost exactly the same
moment there was a black flash, with debris sweeping and twisting around me, and a roar
of hot wind slammed into me and threw me across the room. (page 31). Another
instance is in Chapter 9 when Theo tries to quit his opiate addiction, and the author
combines other aspects as well. The weather had turned, the shop was full of people,
murmur and drift; the trees flowering on the streets outside and were white pops of
delirium I sat red-faced and sneezing in a tub that was hot almost beyond endurance, a
glass of ginger ale and mostly melted ice pressed to my temple while Popchik-too stiff
and creaky to stand with his paws on the edge of the tub, as he had once liked to do-sat
on the bath mat and watched me anxiously. (page 475)
2. What is the author trying to convey or achieve by using this imagery?
Ms. Tartt, as the author, is utilizing these images to connect and immerse the
reader within the life and actions of Theodore Decker. By weaving such a thick layer to
surround the reader (literary equivalent of surround sound), it allows the reader to
connect on an emotional level and makes the reader feel like he or she is really within the
story, there at the moment. Throughout the novel she will utilize it to describe the setting
and place the reader in the moment. An example of this is the morning Theos mother
died. As Theo is telling this portion of the story as a flashback, this setting, a normal
windy day in New York City, is a calm precursor to when his mother died and shows how
he truly did not see the accident about to occur. Cars whooshed by in sheets of dirty
spray; rain swollen clouds tumbled high above the skyscrapers, blowing and shifting to
patches of clear blue sky, and down below, on the street, beneath the exhaust fumes, the
wind felt damp and soft like spring (page 9) Another reason would be to heighten the
sense of panic that Theodore has at any point, like when Lucius Reeve is on Theodores
case about the Fabritius painting. the grimy little park just south of Canal Street and
sit on a bench, hyperventilating, head between my knees, the armpits of my Turnbill and
Asser suit drenched with sweat looking liked some coked-out junior trader (page 488)
3. Are these images part of a larger pattern or structure within the text (e.g., does it
connect to one of the major themes)? Do they create motifs that unite the book and
suggest thematic possibilities?
These sensory images in the novel are part of a larger, intertwining scheme within
the text where whenever Theodore Decker is even remotely aggravated, upset or
bothered, a wall of sensory information describing his surroundings is provided in order
to immerse the reader in the current emotions of the protagonist. These images often
create motifs, such as rainy murky days to signify unease and not bright moods, and often
quick moving, passing scenes when illustrating the blur of life. One of the rainy murky
days was when Theo was being followed by one of Lucius Reeves lackeys in order to
find the Goldfinch paintings. Fine misty rain slanted in the white circle of street light
just outside my window. Everything felt shaky and harsh. (page 499). Also, an example
of one of the busy people-passing scenes is when in Chapter One where Theo and his
mother get off a foul smelling cab and decide to walk instead on Upper 5th Avenue.
People streamed around us on the windy corner: schoolgirls in uniform, laughing and
running and dodging around us; nannies pushing elaborate prams with babies seated in
pairs and threes. A harried, lawyerly father brushed past us, towing his son by the
wrist (page 14)

1. How does the authors use of words, imagery, or details such as gesture or allusions
reveal the authors attitude toward a character or event in the story?
The authors specific choice and utilization of words imagery and details often
reveals their own attitude towards a character or event in the story because certain
combinations of words can allow the reader to attach certain impressions upon characters
and events due to the positively or negatively attached implications broadcasted. An
example of this would have to be Donna Tartts usage of modern nerd culture to describe
grown up Andy Barbour prior to his untimely death. Martina had spoken of him just
as humongous of a geek as ever except he plays it up so much now its almost like, kind
of retro and cool? Coke bottle glasses? Orange corduroys and a haircut like Darth Vaders
helmet? (page 449) These facts are provided after the initial shock of Andys death is
revealed and we instead are left with a grieving Theodore. These are seemingly
meaningless details had Theodore kept in touch with Andy and had the news of Andys
death not been presented. Because of this, the author provides commentary of these
characters: Andy, who is grown up and yet retains childhood elements (like the Star Wars
allusion) and now is frozen in time due to death; and Theo, who continues onward with
life and has changed drastically from the child he was when he was very best friends with
Andy, prior to the accident.
2. What words best describe the authors attitude toward this subject, character, or event?
What are the words the author uses and how do they color and inform your
understanding of a subject, character, or event?
The best way to describe the authors attitude towards Andy and Theo is quite
matter-of-factly, and that she says it like it is. She doesnt sugar coat their flaws, Andys
rebellion against the others of the family and Theos opiate addictions, and in doing so
she paints a picture of plausible reality of these characters. The way that they are
presented is as if they would be real people with actual mistakes made. She doesnt paint
them one dimensionally, and leaves a grayscale spectrum of morals of any of the
characters, where one is not wholly in the right nor wrong. An example of the situation
where neither parties are wholly wrong nor right is when Theo calls Kitsey out on her
having an affair with his childhood friend Tom Cable in Chapter 10. However, Kitsey
turns the tables on Theo and reveals that her flatmate Em has told her of Theos hidden
affairs with other women, thus putting neither of them on sides perfectly devoted to the
other. Also to note, Theos obsession with Pippa is a constantly recurring detail, even
though he is engaged to Kitsey. Tartts way of painting elaborate scenes with words is
somewhat reminiscent of Hugo and Steinbeck, intricate descriptions of every detail in
order to give life to her novel. It adds such a tangible aspect to her work.
3. What figures of speechmetaphors, similes, analogies, personificationdoes the
writer use? How do they affect the tone and meaning of the text? What is the author
trying to accomplish by using them?
The author uses all of the above to help one to understand the text from another
point of view and embellish the text and add an overall air of grandeur and
ornamentation. They often allow the reader to understand the text easier. The author is
trying to the bridge the gap between the message intended to be conveyed and the
message that the reader is receiving. Ideally, those two things would be the same thing.
An example of this is a simile used when Mrs. Barbour and Theo meet again and Theo
brings up Andys death. She pressed her lips together like a child trying not to cry.
(page 444) This provides a visualization aide if one was unable to interpret the action
without its assistance.

1. How does the authors use of different elements (Setting, Characterization, Plot,
Theme, Point of View, Tone) contribute to the texts meaning?
Throughout the novel, other various elements are seen to be utilized in order to
advance the plot of the whole story. They all intertwine to enhance the idea that though
life itself is fleeting, one can speak to another through time by the actions and objects
they leave behind. Without one or the other working together, there would not be as
much of an immersive experience.
2. Do the different elements interact with or otherwise affect the meaning of the others?
In this story, the setting often has significant influence over the plot and tone.
When Theo started off in New York, he was relatively innocent and young to the rest of
the plot. There was a tone of familiarity and a regimen to his movements, for he had
lived there his whole life. After his mothers death, he is under the care of the Barbours
and left hollow, robbed of innocence. When his absentee father finally shows up and
claims custody of him, along with his girlfriend Xandra, and hauls him to Las Vegas,
Theo goes through a rebellious stage, only really getting along with Boris, another child
who has gone through many scene changes in life. This initiates his opiate addiction and
eventually is the final blow, for his father dies in a car crash one night. By getting in a
car crash, Theo crafts a desperate attempt to start life over and return to New York which
ensues and succeeds. There he is able to live with Hobie, meet Pippa again after the
museum attack, and become successful in the antique trade, though he still is haunted by
the memory of his mother dying. New York tends to be what brings out the calmer, tamer
version of Theo, and Las Vegas being the wilder, more unstable side of him. Amsterdam
also influences the plot because of its canals and the escape scene from the heist.
3. Do you notice any significant shifts in any of the elements at any point? If so, what
changes, how, and why? What is the importance and meaning of this change?
There is a significant shift in the characterization of the protagonist Theodore at
the point where his mother dies in the terrorist attack at the museum. He developed
PTSD which haunts him ever since the attack. He no longer took things for granted and
ended up living on a day by day basis, trying not to go to his grandparents in Maryland,
far from everything that he held near and dear to his heart. This change was the loss of
his innocence, childhood and ignorance. This is a total 180-degree flip in the course of
his life, for the day of the incident, both him and his mother were on the way to a
conference with the principal, and significantly menial childhood things. After this he
was forced to fend for himself the majority of the time.
4. What words best describe the different use of these elements? For example, how would
you describe the point of view and the effect it has on the meaning of the text?
The different usage of these elements by the author is well crafted and the
elements enhance the experience of reading this novel. The point of view is kept in first
person throughout the novel and told from the eyes of the protagonist solely. However,
though the point of view is delivered through a sole narrator does not necessarily the
narrator is innocent of any lies in the story being told. An example is how Theo sees that
Mr. Silver, a man whom Mr. Decker, Theos dad, owes five thousand dollars to, is no
good to deal with and he even is intimidated by him. On the other hand, Boris believed
that Bobo Silver is actually not a bad guy, even from the beginning. Bobo Silver- well,
Bobo was actually not so bad guy. (page 537) Theodore is so slanted against him due to
his familial disputes with Bobo, but that is only one perspective in the situation.