Stingo (STIHN-goh), a twenty-two-year-old transplanted Southerner and would-be novelist living in New York City, where he struggles to find himself and write. He is oversensitive, intellectual, and astute. The novel is a record of Stingo’s pursuits in the big city, which primarily include his employment at the McGraw-Hill publishing company, his attempts to write, and his relationship with Sophie Zawistowska and Nathan Landau. Stingo, who in many ways resembles the author, becomes more and more involved with these two characters to the extent that he becomes the third point of a love triangle. As the plot unfolds, the reader learns of Sophie’s history. Concurrently, Stingo falls helplessly in love with her. After Nathan goes violently insane, Stingo takes Sophie to the South, to his home region, for one night of passionate lovemaking. Subsequently, Sophie and Nathan commit suicide, leaving Stingo unable to comprehend evil in human nature, primarily embodied in Auschwitz but more immediately in these two deaths.
Sophie Zawistowska (zah-vih-STOV-skah), née Biegaska (bi-GAHN-skah), a stunningly beautiful Polish survivor of Auschwitz who becomes a lover to Nathan Landau and later to Stingo. The essential aspect of her character is that, although she is a survivor of the worst atrocities of World War II, she remains a victim of the war. In terms of the immediate plot, Sophie is the object of Stingo’s infatuation turning to love, a fact that presents problems to all because of her longstanding affair with Nathan Landau. More important, though, Sophie is the focus of the novel in that the gradual revelation of...
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