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Sophie's World | Chapter 24 : The Enlightenment | Summary

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Summary

Hilde keeps reading and gets to the point where Sophie discovers she is fictional. Hilde looks in her mirror; she is sure her reflection winks at her with both eyes. After dinner she chats with her mother and asks about the crucifix. Her mother confirms Hilde lost it down by the dock, but when she looks for it, she can no longer find it.

Back in Sophie's world, Sophie gets a phone call from Alberto. He convinces her they need to continue their philosophy course in order to "escape from" Albert. They meet at the Major's Cabin and go over the Enlightenment. Philosophers from this period wanted to use reason to enlighten the masses and bring about a new age.

Albert tries to distract Sophie with sea serpents, but Alberto tells her to stay on course. Hilde looks up Marie Olympe de Gouges (1748–93) and is disappointed she cannot find her at first.

Analysis

While reading, Hilde confirms what the reader already knows—"her father really was like an almighty God for Sophie's world." However, how do Hilde's personal items end up in Sophie's world if it is entirely fictional? A logical explanation might be that Albert is taking them from Hilde, but how can he do this while he is in Lebanon serving with the UN observer force? Maybe Hilde's mother is helping, but by her mother's confused reaction to the missing crucifix, one might assume she is not. The mystery remains unsolved for now.

Hilde is struck by the thought that maybe man's quest for knowledge is a fall from grace. This thought terrifies her and she tries to forget it. Meanwhile, the narrative begins to discuss the Enlightenment, a period where philosophers thought science, education and knowledge could lift human society out of ignorance. Gaarder has Albert repeatedly bring up the mission of the United Nations and refers to technological advances coming at the expense of the environment. Gaarder seems to make the point that humanity might have come a long way, but the work of the philosopher is never over.

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