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Summary of First 4 Chapters of Sophie's World: Luke Merritt by Mind Map: Summary of First 4 Chapters
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Summary of First 4 Chapters of Sophie's World: Luke Merritt

Chapter 1: The Garden of Eden

It is early May, and Sophie is walking home with her friend Joanna. Upon her arrival home, she checks the mailbox and finds a single white letter in it. It is addressed to her.

The only thing the letter says is, "Who are you?" (Gaardner 2)., New node

This prompts Sophie to question her identity. She realizes she does not know the answer. (All she knows is that her name is Sophie. But what if her name wasn't Sophie? Would she be someone else?).

She returns to the mailbox, and finds another white envelope. (This occurs later on the same day she found the first envelope).

Similar to the last letter, this letter only contains a short question. This letters asks, "Where does the world come from?" (Gaardner 5).

She starts to question how something could come out of nothing. If she accepts that God created the world, as her religion teacher taught her, then "Had he [God] created himself out of nothing? ...there was something deep down inside her that protested." (Gaardner 7).

After the mailman delivers the day's mail, Sophie checks the mailbox again. This time she finds a postcard from the UN Battalion in Lebanon. At first she thinks it may be from her father, but the card is addressed to a girl named "Hilde," who Sophie has never heard of. However, the card has been sent to Hilde c/o Sophie at Sophie's home address.

"She was sure the three problems were interconnected in some way." (Gaardner 9).

Sophie is determined to find out who "Hilde" is, and why the card was sent to her.

Chapter 2: The Top Hat

Sophie begins to think that learning many of the "trivial" things her teachers try to teach her is pointless, and has trouble concentrating at school.

"For the first time she began to feel that at school as well as everywhere else people were only concerned with trivialities. There were major problems that needed to be solved." (Gaardner 10).

When Joanna asks Sophie if she wants to play cards or badminton later that night, she declines. She now feels she has more important things to think about, but does not tell anything about the secret letters to Joanna.

When Sophie arrives at her house she finds a large brown envelope with the other mail. It is addressed to her, and reads "Course in Philosophy, Handle with Care."

In the letter, the writer (the identity of whom is still unknown to Sophie) asserts that "...there are questions that certainly should interest everyone. They are precisely the questions this course is about." (Gaardner 12).

Some of the questions raised in this letter are "...What is the most important thing in life?...How was the world created?...Is there any will or meaning behind what happens?...Is there a life after death?...And most importantly, how ought we to live?" (Gaardner 12-13).

In this letter the writer also compares the universe to a rabbit. He asserts that most people are nestled deeply into the rabbit's fur, but philosophers try to climb up the fine hairs of the fur to "stare right into the magician's eyes," (Gaardner 14). <---"Staring right into the magician's eyes" is a metaphor for learning or understanding the answers to the above questions, or coming to a deeper understanding of life and how it works.

Sophie later finds a third envelope from the enigmatic philosopher.

In this letter, the philosopher asserts that "THE ONLY THING WE REQUIRE TO BE GOOD PHILOSOPHERS IS THE FACULTY OF WONDER." (Gaardner 15).

The philosopher also says that philosophers try to always see the world and the universe as a mystery, rather that letting it become something we just accept.

Sophie begins to ask her mom some of the questions she is asked by the mysterious philosopher who is writing her letters. Upon hearing some of these questions, Sophie's mom becomes worried that Sophie has gotten into drugs.

Chapter 3: The Myths

The next day, after Sophie returns from school, there is another brown letter waiting in the mailbox for her.

This letter details the "Mythological World Picture," in which people find all the answers to their questions in various religions.

The letter says that this worldview was first challenged by ancient Greek philosophers around 600 BCE.

The letter details many stories found in Nordic myths, and the questions about the world and life that they attempted to answer.

Sophie decides that if she had grown up in her garden without knowing anything about nature she would create myths and fantasies to explain why things happened.

Chapter 4: The Natural Philosophers

Sophie finds another little white envelope.

Her mother sees it, and thinks it is a love letter. Sophie let's her mom think this, because she does not want to have to explain what it really is.

This letter contains three questions. "Is there a basic substance that everything else is made of? Can water turn into wine? How can earth and water produce a live frog?" (Gaardner 29).

The next day Sophie finds another brown envelope from the philosopher. It is about the earliest Greek philosophers.

The earliest Greek philosophers were called "natural philosophers" because they were mainly concerned with the natural world and it's processes., The natural philosophers assumed that "something" had always existed., The three important natural philosophers from Miletus are Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes. They all believed in a single basic substance as the source of all things, but encountered the "problem of change." ("How can one substance suddenly change into something else?" (Gaardner 33).

Parmenides, a Greek philosopher from Elea, thought that everything that exists had always existed. He took this idea further though; he thought that there was no such thing as actual change. Parmenides was a rationalist., Rationalists are those who believe that human reason is the primary source of our knowledge.

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher from Ephesus, thought that change was the most basic characteristic of nature., Heraclitus believed in his senses.

Empedocles then suggested that there are four basic substances, and that change is the result of those substances intermingling.

Anaxagoras, from Athens, believed that nature is built of an infinite number of particles, and that each particle contained part of everything., Therefore, Anaxagoras believed that the heavenly bodies were made up of the same particles as the earth.