This article examines how Styron shapes Sophie's Choice through Southern Gothic literary techniques. In particular, we will explore the development of Sophie, who throughout the story served as the Gothic archetype of the "damsel in distress." She is a heroine who lacks agency,a character with "a tendency to faint and a need to be rescued– frequently." Ultimately, the harsh suppression of female identity entrenched in Gothic literature contributes to the "unimaginable pain" that forces female characters like Sophie to make their "choice." Finally, we will examine how Sophie, controlled throughout her life, really does not have a real "choice" when she is forced to decide which of her children to keep and which to send to the gas chambers. For all her life, Sophie has had only the illusion of choice.
Sewell, William, "When Choice Is an Illusion: Suppression of Women in William Styron's "Holocaust" Novel" (2017). Faculty Research & Publications. 13.