The Goldfinch

by

Donna Tartt

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Mr. Barbour Character Analysis

Mr. Barbour is an eccentric but kind man from a wealthy, esteemed family. He is obsessed with water and sailing, despite the fact that his sister drowned in a sailing accident. Mr. Barbour has bipolar disorder, a condition that first began seriously interfering with his life while he was at Harvard Law School. Although there are periods of his life when his condition is stable, Mr. Barbour’s manic episodes become increasingly intense while his youngest children, Kitsey and Toddy, are in college. He ends up taking his sons Andy and Platt out on an ill-advised sailing trip while in the grip of mania; the boat capsizes, and he and Andy die by drowning.
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Mr. Barbour Character Timeline in The Goldfinch

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Barbour appears in The Goldfinch. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 3: Park Avenue
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...yet as Theo is telling the social workers about them, he remembers that Andy’s father, Mr. Barbour, recently spent time in a mental hospital due to “exhaustion.” (full context)
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...schoolbag and some clothes. Inside Andy’s building, the doorman gives Theo a look of pity. Mr. Barbour, who is a bit strange-looking and wearing rumpled clothes, opens the door and welcomes... (full context)
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Platt is “a champion lacrosse player and a bit of a psychopath,” with violent tendencies. Mr. Barbour accompanies Theo into the room, rummaging around for some pajamas for him to wear.... (full context)
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Andy suggests that Theo just stay with his family for good, and Mr. Barbour somewhat unconvincingly asserts that while they would all love that, it wouldn’t be fair... (full context)
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...Andy and his parents are having another argument about sailing, which Andy insists he hates. Mr. Barbour becomes increasingly animated as he discusses the wonders of sailing, while Theo remains distracted... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4: Morphine Lollipop
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Mr. Barbour is taking the children to dinner at the Yacht Club without Mrs. Barbour, who... (full context)
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...Theo asks why Pippa didn’t know Margaret until now, and Welty explains that Pippa’s grandfather, Mr. Blackwell, had three children with different mothers: Welty, Margaret, and Pippa’s mother, Juliet. When Welty... (full context)
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...to the political situation in Egypt, the rest of the Blackwell family had to leave. Mr. Blackwell married a wealthy Texan woman (Margaret’s mother) and lived a luxurious lifestyle in Houston.... (full context)
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...clear that it’s bad. Andy comments that Platt is Mrs. Barbour’s favorite, whereas Kitsey is Mr. Barbour’s favorite. Andy admits that if he didn’t look so much like his mother he... (full context)
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...the piece, trying to look for other mentions of The Goldfinch. However, at this moment Mr. Barbour enters and asks if Theo would like to join the family in Maine that... (full context)
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...indicating that the Barbours might be interested in adopting him. Andy recently told him that Mr. and Mrs. Barbour believe Theo is a positive influence on Andy, and that they might... (full context)
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When Theo gets back to the Barbours’, he can tell from Mr. and Mrs. Barbour’s reactions that they know he is drunk. The next morning, he feels... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6: Wind, Sand and Stars
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When Theo says Larry isn’t, Mr. Silver replies, “I’m gonna be straight with you […] I got five points on your... (full context)
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...returns, fuming that Kotku is not answering her phone. Theo tries to tell Boris about Mr. Silver, but Boris barely listens. He is convinced that she’s hanging out with another boy... (full context)
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When Larry comes back and Theo tells him about Mr. Silver, Theo can tell he is trying to act causal, but that he might actually... (full context)
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...it would be better than leaving it at home to be discovered by Larry or Mr. Silver. He takes the painting out of its careful wrapping and looks at it, once... (full context)
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...Xandra goes off to wash the dishes, Theo asks if he sorted everything out with Mr. Silver, and Larry explains that “it was just a mix-up.” Apparently, when Larry went to... (full context)
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...get the restaurant running. Theo calls the number and asks to speak to Audrey’s lawyer, Mr. Bracegirdle. To his surprise, the sympathetic voice on the other line says that the two... (full context)
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Theo then remembers Mr. Bracegirdle coming to the Barbours’ apartment not long after Audrey’s death. Now, Bracegirdle fondly reminisces... (full context)
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...3.30pm, the doorbell rings. Boris goes to answer it, but immediately comes back, looking frightened. Mr. Silver is at the door, accompanied by a large, tattooed man holding a baseball bat.... (full context)
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...“so much dirtier and unfriendlier than [he’d] remembered.” He craves a drink, and longs for Mr. Pavlikovsky’s readily available supply of vodka. He is so hungry that he turns into an... (full context)
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Suddenly, Theo sees Mr. Barbour right in front of him, carrying his briefcase, obviously on his way home from... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 9: Everything of Possibility
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...that Andy had an astrophysics fellowship at MIT. Platt replies that Andy is dead—he and Mr. Barbour drowned in a sailing accident five months ago. (full context)
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...get a drink nearby. He takes Theo to an almost empty bar, and explains that Mr. Barbour had bipolar disorder. His first manic episode happened while he was at Harvard Law;... (full context)
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Platt explains that the true nature of Mr. Barbour’s condition was kept hidden from the children. They sent Platt off to boarding school... (full context)
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Platt explains that Mr. Barbour’s condition led him to go out sailing in dangerous conditions. He reminisces about how... (full context)
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On the day of the accident, Mr. Barbour, Platt, and Andy all went out on the boat together. Mr. Barbour fell in... (full context)
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...and isn’t sure if she’ll go back at all. Kitsey was also good at handling Mr. Barbour, and was usually the one to go and see him. Yet in this case... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 10: The Idiot
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...almost “disturbed” by how little trauma she seems to carry with her regarding Andy and Mr. Barbour’s deaths. Now, he tells her that he has to go downtown, and she asks... (full context)
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...financial trouble, partly due to the fact that in the final years of his life, Mr. Barbour’s mania led him to make extremely unwise investments. Theo knows that, on some level,... (full context)
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...at school started to go wrong, so he decided to pretend to be Jewish so Mr. Silver would hire him. He admits that he stupidly didn’t know that tattoos are “against... (full context)
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...The Goldfinch, and Boris at first says it wasn’t safe in the house, what with Mr. Silver coming around all the time. However, he then admits that’s not the whole reason.... (full context)
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...now understands that Kitsey probably felt she couldn’t keep publicly dating Tom after Andy and Mr. Barbour died, but kept doing it in private. Kitsey promises that she will stop seeing... (full context)
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...have happened to her. He adds that the reason why she didn’t go to visit Mr. Barbour the weekend that he and Andy died was because she was with Tom. He... (full context)