Love and Guilt in Sophie's Choice and in Sound and Fury
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William Styron, who wrote Sophie's Choice, sought out other novels to appreciate an author's thematic and stylistic choices. One of the novels which Styron admired was Sound and Fury, by William Faulkner. Styron embraced some of Faulkner's approach to writing and this can be seen by juxtaposing both Sophie's Choice and Sound and Fury. Love and guilt are major topics which both novels share. These emotions are felt by humans everyday, but having too much of both of these elements can prove to be negative for the wellbeing of mankind.
Sophie, the main character in Sophie's Choice, must embrace the loss of her family-her parents, husband, and children-due to the Nazi party in Germany. In the final chapters of the novel, one of Sophie's most excruciating choices is revealed; she makes an emotional decision to select only one of her children to survive with her in the extermination camp, while her daughter Eva was sent to the crematorium. Sophie made many decisions to keep her family alive before they were sent to the camp, such as determining not to aid the rebels' cause, but the guilt she faces after this decision has sculpted her personality and she carried the remorse of her daughter's unfortunate death throughout the rest her life. Sophie expressed her feelings to Stingo about her daughter by saying, “it might even save me from the guilt I have felt over Eva. In some way I know I should feel no badness over something I done like that. I see that it was...beyond my control, but it is still so terrible to wake up these many mornings with a memory of that, having to live with it. When you add it to all the other bad things I done, it makes everything unbearable. Just unbearable (p 538).” Sophie has kept these feelings to herself a...
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...for her, just as Nathan prevented Sophie from being loved by Stingo.
To conclude, love and guilt are emotions that allow humans to change their personality, both negatively and positively. For Sophie and Quentin, guilt has consumed their every thought and the feeling of guilt was unescapable for them. Their only solution was to end their live in hopes of being free from their past. Stingo and Caddy feel different kinds of love-one is from a lover's prospective, the other from a mother's-but both types represent how love is endless, and is unbreakable. Because Styron admired Faulkner’s writing, he was able to capture similar emotions and character chemistry and create a beautifully written novel.
Faulkner, William. The Sound and Fury. Faulkner. New York: Modern Library, 1956. Print.
Styron, William. Sophie's Choice. New York: Random House, 1979. Print.