Study Guide

The Da Vinci Code Secrets

By Dan Brown

Secrets

Sophie still didn't like the painting. "She looks like she knows something … like when kids at school have a secret."

Her grandfather laughed. "That's part of why she is so famous. People like to guess why she is smiling."

"Do you know why she's smiling?"

"Maybe." Her grandfather winked. "Someday I'll tell you all about it."

Sophie stamped her foot. "I told you I don't like secrets!"

"Princess," he smiled. "Life is filled with secrets. You can't learn them all at once." (21.33-38)

Saunière was certainly a wise man, but why torture Sophie like that? Maybe she was ready for at least part of the truth about Mona Lisa's secret. Either way, he started grooming her at a very early age for a life of secrets, at what cost?

Her grandfather was silent a long moment, and Sophie could see he was uncertain how to answer.

Grand-père never lies.

"It opens a box," he finally said. "Where I keep many secrets."

Sophie pouted. "I hate secrets!"

"I know, but these are important secrets. And someday, you'll learn to appreciate them as much as I do." (23.41-43)

Unfortunately, Sophie is only able to truly understand and appreciate all of Saunière's secrets after his death, which tinges everything with a large helping of bittersweet regret.

High above Silas, in the balcony, Sister Sandrine stifled a gasp. Her darkest fears had just been confirmed. This visitor was not who he seemed. The mysterious Opus Dei monk had come to Saint-Sulpice for another purpose.

A secret purpose.

You are not the only one with secrets, she thought.

Sister Sandrine Bieil was more than the keeper of this church. She was a sentry. (24.9-12)

So many secrets, so little time. Is there anyone in the book that doesn't have some deep, dark secret?

"They are dead," the monk said. "All four of them. And they have played me for a fool. Tell me where the keystone is."

"I don't know!" Sister Sandrine said truthfully. "That secret is guarded by others." Others who are dead!

[…]

As Sister Sandrine fell, her last feeling was an overwhelming sense of foreboding.

All four are dead.
The precious truth is lost forever.
(31.10-14)

This is the problem with secrets…eventually, they die out. Sister Sandrine didn't know that the Priory (or should we say Saunière) had a contingency plan, so she dies thinking that their "precious truth" is lost forever.

"King Godefroi was allegedly the possessor of a powerful secret— a secret that had been in his family since the time of Christ. Fearing his secret might be lost when he died, he founded a secret brotherhood— the Priory of Sion— and charged them with protecting his secret by quietly passing it on from generation to generation. During their years in Jerusalem, the Priory learned of a stash of hidden documents buried beneath the ruins of Herod's temple, which had been built atop the earlier ruins of Solomon's Temple. These documents, they believed, corroborated Godefroi's powerful secret and were so explosive in nature that the Church would stop at nothing to get them." (37.8)

Secrets are often really powerful because by their nature they grant the people who know them a leg-up on those who don't. Even young kids know this fact, and will torment their peers by taunting, "I know something you don't know." No wonder the Priory became such a powerful entity.

In the bizarre underworld of modern Grail seekers, Leonardo da Vinci remained the quest's great enigma. His artwork seemed bursting to tell a secret, and yet whatever it was remained hidden, perhaps beneath a layer of paint, perhaps enciphered in plain view, or perhaps nowhere at all. Maybe Da Vinci's plethora of tantalizing clues was nothing but an empty promise left behind to frustrate the curious and bring a smirk to the face of his knowing Mona Lisa. (40.21)

Some people just have a harder time keeping secrets than others. Poor Leonardo was probably one of those people who just squirmed and fidgeted while trying to keep a bit of juicy gossip from everyone else. That or he just liked tantalizing his fans (he was a prankster, after all).

Sophie furrowed her brow. "That's strange, because my grandfather always told me the Rose meant secrecy. He used to hang a rose on his office door at home when he was having a confidential phone call and didn't want me to disturb him. He encouraged me to do the same." Sweetie, her grandfather said, rather than lock each other out, we can each hang a rose— la fleur des secrets— on our door when we need privacy. This way we learn to respect and trust each other. Hanging a rose is an ancient Roman custom.

"Sub rosa," Langdon said. "The Romans hung a rose over meetings to indicate the meeting was confidential. Attendees understood that whatever was said under the rose— or sub rosa— had to remain a secret." (47.50)

This is a little more classy than the old sock-on-the-door signal that is so popular with frat boys and sitcoms.

Sophie felt the hairs stand up on her arms. "But how could a secret that big be kept quiet all of these years?"

"Heavens!" Teabing said. "It has been anything but quiet! The royal bloodline of Jesus Christ is the source of the most enduring legend of all time – the Holy Grail. Magdalene's story has been shouted from the rooftops for centuries in all kinds of metaphors and languages. Her story is everywhere once you open your eyes." (58.98-99)

So…is it actually a secret, then? If the truth has been out there in a bunch of different forms (including a documentary produced by Teabing himself), is it really that hush-hush? Just because they don't have access to the definitive proof (yet…) doesn't mean they couldn't proclaim the truth anyway.

In the echoes of Teabing's words, Sophie heard another voice speaking. Sophie, I must tell you the truth about your family. She realized she was trembling. Could this possibly be that truth her grandfather had wanted to tell her? That her family had been murdered? What did she truly know about the crash that took her family? Only sketchy details. Even the stories in the newspaper had been vague. An accident? Bedtime stories? Sophie flashed suddenly on her grandfather's overprotectiveness, how he never liked to leave her alone when she was young. Even when Sophie was grown and away at university, she had the sense her grandfather was watching over. She wondered if there had been Priory members in the shadows throughout her entire life, looking after her. (99.28)

This is why Sophie hates secrets so much. She's always had that sneaking suspicion that her grandfather—the person she trusted most in the world—was keeping something from her, and that's not a fun feeling to have. No one likes to be left in the dark, especially about something as important as family.

The woman threw her arms around Sophie, the tears flowing faster. "Your grandfather wanted so badly to tell you everything. But things were difficult between you two. He tried so hard. There's so much to explain. So very much to explain." She kissed Sophie's forehead once again, then whispered in her ear. "No more secrets, princess. It's time you learn the truth about our family." (104.107)

It's about dang time! Jeez.