Sophie's World | Study Guide

Jostein Gaarder

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Sophie's World | Chapter 23 : Bjerkely | Summary



For the rest of the book, Hilde takes over as the third-person narrator, breaking the expected cycle set by Sophie. Hilde wakes up on her 15th birthday. and she looks at herself in that "old magic mirror Great-Grandmother had bought from a gypsy woman." She finds her father's gift, the book he wrote for her, Sophie's World, and starts to read. She only takes a break when her mother comes in to give her food and her own present to Hilde—a gold bracelet. Hilde is so engrossed with the story that she loses track of time and skips her last day of school. She gets to the point in the story where Sophie dreams of visiting Hilde and finds her crucifix. Hilde looks for her crucifix and discovers it missing. At this point she decides Sophie must really exist, and not just in her father's story.


In this chapter Hilde muses that her father, Albert, "had always wanted to write something significant," right before finding the gift from her father, the book Sophie's World. This version seems to be the same except for the different epigraph: "True enlightenment is to man like sunlight to the soil." One could argue this is a natural progression from the Goethe quote, as Gaarder seems to believe that true enlightenment comes from having a good enough store of knowledge to acknowledge that there are some things that cannot be known. So, just as plants need soil and sunlight to grow, ideas need people with true enlightenment to grow. Readers can ponder whether Sophie is such an idea.

At first Hilde is charmed by the details her father weaves into the story. She knows he included the part about the winking eye in the "magic mirror" because it's a family story that fascinates Hilde. And she knows Sophie's difficulty with the boat on the lake is a nod to Hilde's own experience. But she is also dismayed items of hers end up with Sophie. She cannot believe that her missing red scarf could simply disappear into a story—"it had to be someplace." Finally, it is discovering Sophie might actually have her crucifix, which Hilde herself did not even know was missing, that causes her to believe Sophie "was more than just paper and ink."

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