Anyway, the first Socrates reference that I noticed comes on p. 142, where the narrator, Mrs. Curren, says: "If the life I live is an examined life, it is because for ten years I have been under examination in the court of Florence." (Florence is her housekeeper.) The examined life here is not the life of philosophical introspection or conversation with like-minded friends. It is life under the gaze of another, someone who inhabits a different world, someone to whom one means nothing but a paycheck and a place to stay or keep things. Someone, also, who judges one.
The second comes on p. 165. Curren speaks of the crime that was committed in South Africa, the crime that she was born into. Because it was committed in her name, she inherits the guilt and must pay the price. She had thought, she says, that this price would be shame. A kind of slavery, lack of freedom, is part of it too. But she has underestimated the price, she sees now:
I had miscalculated. Where did the mistake come in? It had something to do with honor, with the notion I clung to through thick and thin, from my education, from my reading, that in his soul the honorable man can suffer no harm.Just as whether we live an examined life is not up to us, so too we cannot expect (or perhaps even hope) to avoid harm to the soul by living honorably. We can be born into guilt and into slavery. Socrates, with his eyes on the world of Forms perhaps, and belief in an immortal soul, lacks the necessary sense of history and the intersubjectivity of existence.
In "The Grand Inquisitor" worldly suffering is presented as the price we pay for a mysterious kind of spiritual, otherworldly freedom. The Inquisitor regards the price as being too high. So too does Ivan who, in "Rebellion," says that if offered admission into a heavenly world at the expense of a child's suffering (think of "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" if you don't know The Brothers Karamazov) he would return his ticket. Curren echoes some of this on p. 188:
There may be no way of keeping a space in the heart private for you or anyone else [after we are dead]. All may be erased. All. It is a terrible thought. Enough to make one rebel, to make one say: If that is how things are to be, I withdraw: here is my ticket, I am handing it back. But I doubt very much that the handing back of tickets will be allowed, for whatever reason.It is not suffering that is unacceptable here but annihilation, and perhaps also the lack of the kind of privacy that Socrates might have imagined, each soul an independent being, untouchable by others. If we are born into slavery then freedom is not really available. At least not in any form that Curren can understand (and she is no fool): "I have no idea what freedom is [...]. Perhaps freedom is always and only what is unimaginable. Nevertheless, we know unfreedom when we see it--don't we?" (p. 164)
There is something rather Schopenhauerian about all this: free will is illusory, death means the end of individual consciousness, our separateness as individuals is more or less an illusion, life is mostly suffering ("life is drowning," p. 195), resignation and compassion are what is called for. But there is also the sense that we live in a particular age and that another, more hopeful one is possibly to come.