Tags: research scene
Added: 4 years ago
[Sophie, nervously fixing her hair, walks up to the male librarian (slicked back black hair, glasses, black sweater, bow tie) at the front desk, which seems to tower above her ... she clears her throat and begins to speak in her thick accent]
SOPHIE: Excuse me, sir. Could you tell me what, um ...
[the librarian does not look up from his index cards]
SOPHIE: Where would be that listing in the catalog file for, um ...
[she looks down at her notes]
SOPHIE: Nineteenth 19th century American poet ... Emile Dickens, please?
LIBRARIAN: In the catalog room on the left ... But you won't find any such listing.
SOPHIE: [pause] I won't find that listing? Why wouldn't I ... find it?
LIBRARIAN: Charles Dickens is an English writer. There is no American poet by the name of Dickens.
SOPHIE: I'm sorry, no. That is, I'm sure, American poet. "Emile Dickens."
LIBRARIAN: Listen ...
[looks at her notes and starts spelling out the name]
SOPHIE: D ... I ...
[the librarian gets annoyed and raises his voice]
LIBRARIAN: I told you! There's no such person! Do you want me to draw you a picture?
SOPHIE: No ...
LIBRARIAN: I'm telling you, you hear me?
SOPHIE: All right ...
[she turns to walk away, but ends up fainting]
Pakula, Alan J. (Director). Sophie's Choice. United States: Universal Pictures, 1982.
Starring: John Rothman (Librarian); Meryl Streep (Sophie); Kevin Kline (Nathan)
Based on the Novel: Stryon, William. Sophie's Choice. New York: Random House, 1979.
This film features a brief scene where Sophie, Auschwitz survivor and emigre to New York City, requests help from a stern male librarian who deliberately acts obtuse. When she asks for poetry by Emil Dickens, he ridicules her, saying she means Charles Dickens and that he didn't write poetry. This scene is much stronger and more pivotal in the book, as it shows where Sophie meets her paranoid-schizophrenic lover, Nathan, when he helps her after the librarian's rudeness causes her to faint and vomit. We learn that the Jewish librarian, Sholom Weiss, triggers horrific memories from Sophie's past -- she believes him to be a Nazi. Nathan tears into him with language so strong I can quote only a small piece here: "You nasty little putz ... you're enough to make anyone puke!" (p.105). (Nathan claims to be a biologist but in reality holds an "undemanding" job at Pfizer's company library.)