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Why was Sophie sent to Auschwitz?

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rwilkinson4 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 26, 2012 at 9:38 AM via web

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Why was Sophie sent to Auschwitz?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 26, 2012 at 7:00 PM (Answer #1)

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Styron does not delve greatly into why Sophie was sent to Auschwitz.  The larger implications of evil and the philosophical tenets of the Holocaust are where he spends most of his focus in the narrative.  We are left to presume that Sophie was sent to Auschwitz because of mistaken identity or an act of random targeting.  Sophie is not Jewish.  She is Polish.  Her father and her husband are both zealous pro- Nazi advocates.  Yet, at the time, the Polish population was seen as enemies of the Third Reich.  In this, Sophie's Polish background becomes an element that contributes to her capture and her deportation to Auschwitz with her children.  It is through this revelation that some powerful philosophical elements emerge.  The first is that the Holocaust focused its energies on the Jewish people, but not all of its victims were Jewish.  This becomes an important point to raise because Sophie's pain and guilt over being both "victim and victimizer" are the same experiences that victims of the Holocaust experience, even though she, herself, was not an intended victim of the Holocaust.  At the same time, the fact that Sophie was targeted, even though she was not an intended victim of the Holocaust, helps to feed her very convoluted and tormented state of being where clarity and moral simplicity are replaced by intricacy and obscurity.  It is here where Styron spends most of his energy, bringing out that Sophie being almost arbitrarily sent to Auschwitz helps to enhance it.

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