The Goldfinch Themes & Motifs

This Study Guide consists of approximately 68 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Goldfinch.
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Death in Life (Natures Mortes)

This major theme, death in life or natures mortes, highlights the significance of the temporary existence of life in this world. Master painters have addressed this theme in depth. For instance, the “Portraiture and Natures Mortes” exhibit at the museum in New York, which Theo and his mother go visit, shows paintings by Carel Fabritius (The Goldfinch), Rembrandt (The Anatomy Lesson), and Frans Hals (The Boy with the Skull), which are parallel to the real world. In the novel, Theo's mother tells Theo that a painter's use of wilted flower petals or black spots on a piece of fruit has special meaning to the painter and the painting's audience. The painter is sharing a secret or symbolic meaning with the onlooker.

Death in life is something that people must be cognizant of in their lives, as all humans, as biological beings, begin...

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This section contains 1,434 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Goldfinch Study Guide
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