42 pages 1 hour read

William Styron

Sophie's Choice

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1979

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Chapters 9-10Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 9 Summary

Stingo begins this chapter from the perspective of a successful author in 1967. His work has won acclaim over the years, but he hasn’t yet told Sophie and Nathan’s story. Because the memory of the summer of 1947 still gnaws at him, he decides that now is the time for him to write a narrative about them.

He begins by exploring Sophie’s relationship with Commandant Höss. She has become valuable to him because of her multilingual abilities and knowledge of shorthand. Sophie recalls working in the attic of the family home, as Höss dictates a letter about ways to curtail the mortality rate of Greek Jews being shipped to Auschwitz. As she works, Sophie realizes her complicity in helping Höss exploit his Jewish charges to maximum effect. She also guiltily formulates a plan to gain his trust so that when he gets transferred out of the camp, she might be allowed to go with him as his secretary.

Stingo talks about the number of lies Sophie’s narrative contains. He doesn’t find out until much later that she sugarcoated her life story for his benefit and Nathan’s. Stingo says, “A fabrication, a wretched lie, another fantasy served up to provide a frail barrier, a hopeless and crumbly line of defense between those she cared for, like myself, and her smothering guilt” (258).

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