Summary: Chapter Ten

On the morning of the day that she decided to seduce Hoss, Sophie learned from a prisoner named Bronek that Hoss was soon leaving. This information spurred Sophie to act quickly. However, before she even met with Hoss for the day, Sophie was sexually assaulted by the housekeeper, a German woman named Wilhelmine. She was left shocked and fearful but went faithfully to Hoss’s office to complete her work. That afternoon, Hoss asked her about how she was able to obtain a position as a secretary. Sophie seized the chance to tell him that she had been imprisoned by mistake, and that her father was anti-Semitic as well. She hoped this information would make Hoss sympathetic to her, but he only seemed interested in hearing about what had happened to her since she had been imprisoned. Sophie explained that she had been sexually assaulted by a female guard, and when another guard came to her aid, she noticed that Sophie could speak flawless German. The second guard took a liking to Sophie and eventually arranged for her to begin working as a typist and translator. These skills eventually led to Sophie being given the position as secretary to Hoss.

Hoss seemed more relaxed and began to confide in Sophie about the stress and difficulty he experienced in his role. Sophie tried to urge him on by speaking negatively about the Jews and showing him the pamphlet. She admitted that she was guilty of smuggling the ham that got her arrested but asked whether she could be freed in light of her track record as a Polish individual who had allied with the Nazis and endorsed anti-Semitic principles. She seemed to be winning Hoss over, and he asked why she hated Jews so intensely. Sophie claimed that she had a younger sister who had been raped by a Jewish man, but this claim proved to be a misstep, as Hoss disagreed with and disliked the portrayal of Jews as hyper-sexualized. He said that he was unimpressed with Sophie’s anti-Semitic beliefs and did not see them as justifying her freedom. However, just as Sophie was losing hope, Hoss began to praise her beauty. He explained that he desired her and pulled her into his arms, but they were interrupted by a knock at the door. After the brief interruption, Hoss stated that he would not take the risk of becoming involved in a sexual relationship with Sophie. Moreover, he was going to send her back to the camp.

Stingo pauses to situate the moment where he and Sophie had this conversation. After the fight between Sophie and Nathan, which led to both of them leaving the boarding house, Stingo spent several days visiting with his father at the hotel where his father was staying. When he returned to the boarding house, Sophie was there packing up the last of her things. Sophie and Stingo went for drinks together, which is when she told him about her time in the Hoss household and the events that took place there. During this conversation, Stingo also saw her drink more heavily than he had in the past.

As Sophie continued her story, she disclosed a shocking fact: she had a son named Jan, and he was with her at the camp. Sophie quickly said that Jan had been taken to a different area of the camp when the two of them arrived and that she couldn’t bear to talk about him. On that day in Hoss’s office, she asked Hoss to release her son if he wouldn’t release her. Hoss immediately refused while Sophie began to weep and begged him to at least allow her to see her son. Sophie admitted to Stingo that she was later tormented by guilt over the way she had acted in that moment but that she would have been willing to do anything in order to get Hoss to allow her to see her son. Surprisingly, Hoss relented and told her that she would be permitted to see her son.

Summary: Chapter Eleven

Stingo’s narration returns to the evening when he met up with his father, after Nathan and Sophie had their terrible fight and left the boarding house separately. Stingo went to the hotel and spent time with his father. At this point, he assumed he would never see Sophie or Nathan again. Stingo’s father noticed his son’s melancholy mood and began to gently urge Stingo to seriously consider returning to the South and moving to the farm. Stingo spent the next two days with his father, taking in the sights of New York during the day and staying at the hotel overnight. When his father gently questioned him, Stingo told him a bit about his infatuation with Sophie. As Stingo reflected on the fact that he had no friends and no romantic prospects, he abruptly decided to return to the South with his father. He planned to leave that very day and went back to the boarding house to collect his things. However, when he got there, he ran into Sophie. He told his father to go on without him and went to the bar with Sophie.

The narrative returns to Sophie’s plans during her time at Auschwitz. During the Nazi regime, a program called Lebensborn allowed for children who were not German but displayed desirable “Aryan” characteristics to be taken from their families and adopted by loyal Nazi families so that they could grow the population of Germany. During her time at the camp, Sophie had schemed to see if there was any way her son could be entered into the program since he was blonde and handsome. At this point in her story, Sophie became overwhelmed, and she and Stingo stopped talking about her history for a while. Stingo was preoccupied with the fact that despite the break-up, Sophie was clearly still in love with Nathan, and she would now be moving out of the boarding house, which would make it much harder for him to see her. After they walked back to the boarding house, Stingo had an outburst, lamenting his grief and anger that Nathan had abruptly shut both Stingo and Sophie out of his life. Sophie explained that Nathan had an inner demon that sometimes caused him to lash out and do terrible things. In the fall of 1946 (a few months after Sophie and Nathan first met and months before they met Stingo) while the two of them were vacationing in Connecticut, Nathan had tried to kill both Sophie and himself.