"I was glad to be shut of my job -- my first and only salaried position, excluding the military, of my life -- even though its loss seriously undermined my already modest solvency."

This statement and the description that follows appear to be an autobiographical presentation of the time Styron spent working for the McGraw-Hill publishing company in 1947.

The similarity between Stingo and the author is demonstrated by the manner in which Stingo is sacked from the company. The balloon incident in Sophie's Choice is only slightly less dramatic a means of termination than the water balloons Styron actually dropped from his office – the result was unquestionably the same.