Sophie's World | Study Guide

Jostein Gaarder

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Sophie's World | Chapter 33 : The Garden Party | Summary



Hilde reflects on how many of the scenarios in the book are based on her interactions with her father.

Back inside the novel Sophie and her mother ride the bus home from town, and her mother reads the opening of Sophie's World. The next day they finish their last-minute preparations for the party. Guests arrive and everyone eagerly awaits the arrival of Alberto, most of all Sophie's mother. Shortly after Alberto arrives Joanna begins acting strangely, tackling Jeremy and making out with him under a bush. The guests watch in fascination. Alberto gives a speech revealing to everyone present they are imaginary and exist only in Albert's mind. One of the guests drives a car into an apple tree in the garden, and Sophie and Alberto use this diversion to escape Albert. Sophie's mother is sad but proud that Sophie has vanished.


Via Hilde, Gaarder raises an interesting question: what might happen if Sophie read the book she found in which she is only a character? Might a new Sophie arise that only existed in Sophie's head, or would Sophie actually have to write a book herself for that to happen? The mind boggles, as it does often when contemplating the intricacies of existence, fictional and otherwise.

During the garden party, it is astoundingly clear how well-developed Sophie's mind has become during her philosophy course with Alberto. When confronted with the news of their fictional existence, Sophie's guests (including her mother) have no appreciable existential angst. They continue on with their absurd behavior, paying no mind to this revelation, which should shock them as much as it once shocked Sophie.

As the garden party comes to its climax, Sophie can no longer recognize her garden. "This was once my Garden of Eden," Sophie says, in a metafictional nod to her origins at the beginning of the novel. She has outgrown her garden and is now "being driven out of it." Like Adam and Eve before her, she has metaphorically eaten from the tree of knowledge and no longer belongs to her realm of happy ignorance.

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