In Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Carol Rifka Brunt writes a novel connecting people, objects and animals. June Elbus and her uncle, Finn Weiss have a deep and understanding relationship, which leads to June and Toby discovering the unlikely friendship they would have never had without him. One of these objects that holds an importance in the story is Finn’s Russian teapot; it intertwines the protagonists, portraying life, friendship and hardship.
One way the teapot demonstrates friendship is when Finn graciously gives his teapot to June. He says that he only wants her to “serve the very best people from it” (47). June is at first hesitant to receive the gift because she loves Finn and in her mind he is the best person she knows. June feels at ease with Finn and he understands her in a way that nobody else does. Also when June receives the teapot it foreshadows, Finn’s partner, Toby. Toby is the person who gives the teapot to June as a gift from Finn. At this moment, the teapot is what brings together Finn, June and Toby. Along with the teapot, Toby gives her a note saying he wants to meet with her and that June is “perhaps the only person who misses Finn as much as I do [Toby]” (49). The fact that it is the Russian teapot which brings together the protagonists is symbolic in its own way. Finn receives the teapot during his travels in Russia and meets Toby during his travels in London. When they come back to the States together, Finn forms a bond with June through the personality of Toby. Finn sees similar aspects in Toby that he sees in June, which is why both of them love Finn. They both have characteristics of who Finn is and wants to be. Together, they create the Finn that they both love. Although, June does not see it at first she knows so much about Toby through Finn and through the dainty, beautiful Russian teapot.
Another moment where the teapot holds significance is when Greta steals the teapot and drinks from it. The teapot shows the one connection other than Toby that June has with Finn. Rifka Brunt writes, “Her hands were on my teapot, my teapot from Finn, and in that moment everything else disappeared. I stared at her finger resting on the spout, and the anger swelled so big in my chest I really thought I could kill Greta right then and there...I stepped toward her, then stopped in the middle of the kitchen. Then I screamed as loud as I could. Every mean thing Greta had ever done was wrapped up in that scream” (240). In this scene the teapot is on the verge of breaking. June begins to scream all of the mean thoughts she has ever had about Greta; Greta has ruined the connection. The teapot connects Finn and June not Finn and Greta or even June and Greta. She wants to destroy the last remaining evidence of what Finn and June had. This all demonstrates the fact that the teapot is fragile. In one swift move, Greta could have dropped the teapot and it would be gone forever; June’s heart would break. When June quickly grabs the teapot and runs to the bathroom, the tea spills out. This could mean that the teapot is in the wrong hands and is not served to the very best people. Greta is served from the teapot. She is the annoying, pretentious, petty sister who is not able to wrap her head around June and Finn’s relationship. As seen in the book during Greta’s drunken moments, she aspires to go back to what she and June had before Finn. She believes the only way they can go back is to remove Finn from June’s life, but with Finn in the picture, she does not believe it is possible. The teapot is what is holding them back from being close sisters again.
Additionally, the Russian teapot represents the strained relationship between Finn and Danielle. When Finn initially wants his sister to have the teapot, she refuses.
He says, “Danni, just take it. For June. Just let me have my way for once.”
Danielle responds with, “Ha. For once. That’s a good one” (46).
This is the first glimpse of their struggles in their sibling relationship. Finn and Danielle used to be so close; it was always just the two of them and they would simply draw. They both had strong aspirations for their futures together, but Finn took off at a young age, leaving his sister by herself. Danielle never had the chance to live out her dream and become the artist she hoped to be. When Finn left, he took Danni’s future with him and ran, never to see her again until after she had a career and children. All of those missing years are irreplaceable. The irony when Finn wants Danni to have the teapot can be seen clearly. She never got her way, so why should she let Finn have his way? Finn abandons her for a different life, similarly to when June abandons Greta for a life with Finn. When Greta takes the teapot, it is a symbol of her wanting her way. She misses her sister and she believes that by taking the teapot it is justifiable because June left her.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a riveting depiction of first love, loss and the true meaning behind family.
Through the use of inanimate objects and their symbolism, sparks a connection between the characters that lasts throughout the book.The use of the Russian teapot adds an element of beauty, but also disaster bringing together the characters in an unusual, surprising way.