Scholars have suggested that William Styron’s Nathan in Sophie’s Choice is insane or depraved — a character whose motivations lack rationality at best and are unambiguously evil at worst. Elie Wiesel, the author of the famous Holocaust memoir Night, has been very critical of Styron’s novel. Ironically, by using the Yiddish version of Wiesel’s memoir Night, it is possible to demonstrate that Nathan’s behavior is more “logical” than scholars have previously understood. This approach offers us a new way of reading and interpreting Styron’s novel by clarifying how Nathan’s character functions within a well-established tradition of sociopolitical outrage about racial oppression, which is best exemplified in James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, a text that Styron strategically references in Sophie’s Choice.


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pp. 85-103
Launched on MUSE
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