Summary: Sophie identifies herself to the security warden guarding Langdon. Confident that the guard will not shoot, Sophie proceeds to investigate the reverse of a large Da Vinci masterpiece, the Madonna of the Rocks, for further messages from her grandfather. Her gamble pays off: the guard is outraged, but, of course, he cannot put a bullet through a Da Vinci! More importantly, Sophie finds her grandfather’s mysterious key affixed to the bottom of the painting’s frame. Sophie threatens to put her knee through the canvas unless the warden lets Langdon and her go—which he does, sending his gun with Langdon. When Langdon asks how she knew to look behind that particular painting, Sophie reveals to him that her grandfather’s message, “So Dark the Con of Man,” was yet another anagram, one for the title of the painting.
Analysis: This chapter goes some ways toward again reestablishing Sophie as Langdon’s equal in cryptology. She is given an opportunity to piece together another section of Saunière’s elaborate puzzle: as she tells a baffled Langdon, “I missed the first two anagrams… I wasn’t about to miss the third” (p. 144). Also, the chapter shows us that she continues to be Langdon’s superior in terms of getting out of a tight scrape. It is Sophie’s bold bluff (or is it a bluff?) about destroying Madonna of the Rocks that wins them their freedom, coupled with her knowledge that the gallery’s electronic security systems make it impossible for the warden to radio for help. Sophie thus proves herself mentally and physically quite resourceful.