Sophie's Choice

Book vs. Movie

The Choice

When thinking of the actual choice that Sophie has to make, the movie fails to portray just how difficult the decision was. In the novel, Sophie describes the way her daughter is clinging onto her screaming because she has an ear infection that was untreated prior to her making the choice. The novel portrays Sophie in the sense that she chose her son to live because of her daughter's crying and the irritation that she was bringing Sophie. The movie doesn't capture any of this. This scene from the movie is towards the very end as Sophie is retelling it to Stingo. It seems like she doesn't really make a choice. The guard is yelling at her screaming for her to pick who will live and who will die, but the movie barely brushes over her making a choice because they take both kids anyway.

To me, this was the most important difference. I thought that "Sophie's choice" was all based around the fact of having to choose between her two kids while in the movie, I felt like the choice was over which man to choose, Nathan or Stingo. The heart breaking decision was a grand total of about two minutes and was never mentioned again in the movie, while in the novel, it was referred to many times because it is what tore her up so bad from her experience in the Auschwitz camp.

Parallels of Racism

In William Styron's novel, he puts a lot of emphasis between the mistreatment of the Jews because of the Nazis as well as the mistreatment of African Americans due to the Americans that were living in the South. In the book, Styron adds more emphasis on Hitler making the Slavs his main target and not the Jews. He does this to make sure readers are aware that the Holocaust was not solely exclusive to Jews.

Sophie's Choice was primarily about the suffering of the Polish people and how Sophie was a victim of this suffering, but the movie doesn't fully capture this. The movie is more based off of the relationship between Sophie, Nathan, and Stingo more than it is based on the imprisonment of the six million innocent Polish peoples who died as a result of the Nazis.


In chapter 4 of the novel, Stingo admits how untrusting Sophie is because of the series of lies that she had previously told to him including the one about her father and her previous husband. He states that she is so guarded when approached to sex because of her getting raped on the subway. In the movie, it was never mentioned that she had been raped.

The absence of the scene explaining that Sophie had been previously raped takes away from all of the hardships that Sophie encountered and her everyday struggles in loving and having sexual relations with men.


In chapter 12 of the novel, Sophie attempts to drown herself while at the beach with Stingo, but Stingo saves her. In the movie, this never scene never takes place. They never go to the beach thus Sophie never attempts to commit suicide.

This is an important part to leave out of the movie because watchers are unable to grasp how depressed Sophie is from all of the horrid things that happened to her during the Holocaust. As far as the watchers know, Sophie only tried to commit suicide the one time after she was liberated from the concentration camp and was at a refugee camp in Sweden.

Sophie's Lie About Virginity

In chapter 4 of the novel, as Stingo is pondering about Sophie's character based from the lies she has previously told him, Sophie tells Stingo that Nathan was "the only man she had ever made love to beside my husband", which is a lie because she had a lover in Warsaw after her deceased husband and before Nathan. She never has this conversation with Stingo in the movie.

Although, it is only one simple quote that was absent within the movie, it is important because throughout the movie, Nathan questions her fidelity. Even though Nathan suffers from severe Schizophrenia, he seems to always think that Sophie has cheated on him. Since Stingo is madly in love with Sophie because of the things she says and the way that she acts toward him, it seems appropriate to question her faithfulness to Nathan. By proving how easy she is to lie, it proves the truth to Sophie's morals and character.

Stingo's Father's Visit

In the novel, Stingo's father visits Stingo in New York, and Stingo recalls a mistake that he made as a child involving his mother before she passed away. This did not occur in the movie. Stingo's father was rarely mentioned as he just talked about the book he was writing on behalf of his mother.

The movie did not capture Stingo's character as well as the book did. The visit from his father was important in understanding the character of Stingo and the history behind his motives for his book. In my opinion, the movie mistakes Stingo for being more of a "home-wrecker" type friend instead of sincere.

Sophie's Choice | "The Choice"


In conclusion...

My personal opinion towards the book and the movie is that the movie missed out on many essential parts of information in regards to the characters' personalities. Also, there was more emphasis in the book about the choice that Sophie actually had to make when choosing between her two kids while the movie put a lot more emphasis on the relationships that she had with Nathan and Stingo. The movie left out too many essential parts to the story. The movie was very well directed, but I thought that it could have been more connected emotionally than it was. Most of the blogs I read liked the movie better than the book, but I think that that is due to the how long the book is. It is 600 pages with both important and irrelevant things that could have been taken out.