Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fount of Life

Current book: Sophie's Choice
Pages read: 326 - 407

When Stingo and Sophie meet again, after he thought she had left the boardinghouse, she tells him that she's still planning to move out, but will spend one last weekend there. Most of that weekend is spent drinking with Stingo at various locales. At one point she offers to give him a blow job, though he, ah....spends himself...too quickly, as it were. Point being, Stingo and Sophie seem to be moving toward a sexual relationship as well as a Platonic one. She also tells him about her early relationship with Nathan, after Nathan had "saved" her and given her medical care, when things started to get more complicated as she began to see his darker (read: totally fucking psycho) side. He's a complete meth addict, as it turns out (though, being another time, they're called "bennies" (short for Benzedrine) instead of meth, but whatever), and takes coke pretty frequently, which partially explains his weird mood swings. He also just seems to have violent tendencies and mood swings on his own, however, that are only worsened by the drugs.

Early in the relationship, Sophie tells Stingo, when she and Nathan went away to Connecticut for a weekend, he convinced himself that Sophie was sleeping with her boss, spent the recklessly fast drive to Connecticut verbally abusing her, and when they arrived, had violent sex with her (which she admits was consensual and even enjoyable on her part), beat her until he broke a rib, and then tried to get her to commit suicide with him by taking cyanide. (He's a real prince. Have I mentioned?) Anyway, she doesn't really offer Stingo any explanation for all this, but she does relate it to him so that he'll comprehend Nathan's history of violence. Some part of her feels that she deserves this kind of treatment, it's clear, due to a sense of guilt so vast that it threatens to overwhelm her at times. She harbors some anti-Semitic feelings, due mostly to her upbringing, and that's part of it, but mostly it's from the undisclosed events of her past.

Convinced more by her own urge to confess than by anything Stingo really does, Sophie proceeds to tell him more of her story, both in Auschwitz and beforehand. She was hoping, it seems, when she broached the subject of her son with Hoss, to get him enrolled in the Lebensborn (the Nazi eugenics program that kidnapped Polish children of correct Aryan genetic composition and placed them with German families) as a way out of the concentration camps.

We also learn more about Sophie's history in Warsaw before she was arrested. It seems that, since she hated her husband, she had an affair, after he was arrested, with a member of the Polish resistance named Jozef. Jozef's role in the resistance was to kill Poles who were informing the Nazis about the location of Jews in hiding. Apparently, he usually garroted them with piano wire, and always vomited afterward. (Whoa. I mean, yes, I'm on his side, but whoa.) After a while, Jozef was found out and had his throat cut by the Nazis. Another member of the resistance, Wanda, who was a friend of Jozef's, used to try to convince Sophie to use her German-language skills to help them, but Sophie refused, on the grounds that she couldn't endanger her children. This is the part where the astute reader goes, "Children?" That's right, ladies and gentlemen, the plot thickens: Sophie had two children, Jan and Eva, not one. (Since I knew some of the plot of this novel beforehand, I was aware of that, and have been confused for most of the novel, but now am less so.)

The book is giving me bad dreams about Holocaust-related stuff. They're not actually dreams about the Holocaust, but they're definitely attributable to thinking about its horrors on a daily basis. Last night I dreamed that I'd been keeping a guinea pig in a drawer, but I'd forgotten about it and, as a result, had starved it almost to death. When I opened the drawer, it was there, emaciated and laboring to breathe, and had lost all its hair. I realize that this doesn't really make any sense, and, if it's analogous to the Holocaust, puts me in the role of unwitting and contrite SS guard, apparently, but I was pretty disturbed. Um. Yeah. I guess that's all.

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