When Colin was young, his father brought home a book about a circle with a missing piece. Colin did not understand the book as a metaphor at the time, but after Katherine XIX breaks up with him, he begins thinking obsessively about the hole in his gut where he is missing a piece Katherine took away with her. Throughout the novel, Colin decides that the hole will not be filled by the return of Katherine—nor by the completion of a project such as his Theorem to predict the course of romantic relationships. Rather, Colin realizes, he needs to fill the hole with things that really matter to him.
The hole is a fixation for Colin, but it also allows him to begin crafting stories about his life. The idea that there is a hole in his gut gives him an affinity with the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was shot in the gut. Colin also finds significance in the name of the town Gutshot, which derives from the days when prizefighting was closely regulated and had to be done only with shots to the gut. Were Colin not to think about the hole in his gut symbolically, he might not have searched for meaning in Gutshot and at the supposed grave of the Archduke. Although there might not have been anything overtly significant to Colin’s life in either of these places, his determination to spend time there causes them to become significant to him. The hole in his gut and his search for his missing piece thus leads to his character growth and sense of fulfillment by the end of the novel.
The Hole in Colin’s Gut Quotes in An Abundance of Katherines
Crying adds something: crying is you, plus tears. But the feeling Colin had was some horrible opposite of crying. It was you, minus something.
You’re a very special person. Colin would hear this a lot, and yet – somehow – he could never hear it enough.
She tried to get out as quickly and painlessly as possible, but after she begged curfew, he began to cry. She held his head against her collarbone. And even though he felt pitiful and ridiculous, he didn’t want it to end, because he knew the absence of her would hurt more than any breakup ever could.
The missing piece in his stomach hurt so much – and eventually he stopped thinking about the Theorem and wondered only how something that isn’t there can hurt you.