Nathan, Stingo and Sophie all quickly reconciled. One day, Nathan casually proposed taking a trip to the South with Stingo as his guide, and Stingo became excited about the idea. Nathan suggested that they go in October and mentioned that he and Sophie were planning to marry in October. A short time later, in the last week of September, Stingo received a phone call from Nathan’s brother, Larry, asking him to meet. At the meeting, Larry explained that his brother was not a scientist and had not received any university training. Larry said that Nathan did have an undemanding job at Pfizer, which had been arranged by a family friend in order to give the pretense of him having a job, but the story of Nathan being a brilliant research biologist was a total fabrication. Larry told Stingo that his brother was schizophrenic and that because their family was quite wealthy, they had tried to get him the best care and give him the most normal life possible. Larry had allowed Nathan to maintain his delusions but was now concerned that Sophie was being lured into a marriage without knowing the truth.
Larry vaguely hoped that Stingo might be able to help Nathan recover from his drug habit. He also wanted Stingo to report back to him if Nathan ever got out of hand, and Stingo agreed to do so. However, Stingo almost immediately received an invitation from an old college friend, Jack Brown, to come and stay with him, his wife, and his sister-in-law for a vacation in upstate New York. Stingo was eager to spend time with Jack and intrigued by the prospect of the sister-in-law, Mary Alice, so he headed off to the country. Stingo was quickly frustrated by Mary Alice, who willingly pleasured him with her hand every night but refused to do anything else. Stingo finally confronted Mary Alice, who explained that she had slept with one man before, after they had become engaged. However, the man had abandoned her before the marriage, and she had vowed that she would never sleep with another man unless she was married to him. Stingo chastised Mary Alice for her refusal to sleep with him and stormed off to bed. There, he had a dream that he was having sex with a man.
The next day, Stingo received a phone call from Morris Fink telling him to come back because Nathan had become unhinged and violent again. Stingo tried to call Larry but learned that Larry was out of town at a conference. When Stingo arrived in New York, Sophie and Stingo went to have drinks, and she told him about the past few weeks since he had left New York. At first, Sophie and Nathan had been happy and had spent a lot of time planning their wedding and subsequent honeymoon to the South. However, one night, Nathan used drugs again and lashed out, accusing Sophie of infidelity. Sophie declined to say who Nathan believed she was sleeping with, but he had become more and more angry and had pointed a gun at her. At this point, Sophie believed that Nathan needed to be institutionalized. Stingo resolved to move Sophie into a hotel for her safety, try to contact Larry again, and then look for Nathan himself.
Back at the boarding house, Stingo urged Sophie to hurry with her packing. He received a phone call from Nathan and tried to keep him calm but eventually realized that Nathan was accusing him of having an affair with Sophie. Nathan was enraged and threatened both Sophie and Stingo, firing a gunshot into the receiver.
Sophie and Stingo boarded a train to Virginia by way of Washington, D.C. Before leaving, Stingo had managed to get in touch with Larry, who had promised to hurry to New York. Aboard the train, Stingo started to feel calmer and more cheerful. He assumed that he and Sophie would have to get married if they were going to live together, and he looked forward to a happy life writing his novel and being with her. However, Stingo quickly became frustrated when he noticed that Sophie had started drinking and asking questions about phoning Nathan. She also began to talk about her hopes of writing about Auschwitz and lamenting her feelings of guilt. Eventually Sophie became so drunk and distressed that Stingo took her to a shabby hotel in Washington to recover before continuing their journey. There, Sophie asked Stingo to explain where they were going. Stingo confided that he was in love with her and hoped that they would marry and live together in Virginia.
Sophie hesitated, saying that she was much older than Stingo. She suggested they simply live together for a while, but Stingo explained that would be socially unacceptable in a conservative region. Sophie abruptly told him that she had to confide something. Stingo made her another drink. Sophie talked about her time in Warsaw, when she became more and more haunted by shame over her complicity in her father’s anti-Semitic actions. One day, she confided in Wanda about her relationship to the pamphlet. To Sophie’s surprise, Wanda didn’t seem to care and said that Sophie was not to blame for the actions of her father. That night, Sophie watched as Wanda sold stolen weapons to two Jewish men to help them defend themselves. Later, Wanda predicted that the Nazis would turn against Gentiles as well. She predicted the deaths of herself, Sophie, and the two children. Sophie told Stingo that Wanda was a lesbian and that the two of them occasionally slept together during their time in Warsaw.