Why Does Turnip Head Follow Sophie?

by Hazel

In the beloved animated film “Howl’s Moving Castle,” directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli, one of the most intriguing characters is Turnip Head, also known as the Scarecrow. His unwavering loyalty and mysterious presence raise the question: Why does Turnip Head follow Sophie? This article explores the character’s background, his role in the story, and the deeper meanings behind his actions.

Turnip Head

Who is Turnip Head?

Turnip Head, initially introduced as a magical scarecrow, appears early in “Howl’s Moving Castle.” With a turnip for a head, a stick body, and a suit of clothes, he bounces around on a stick and aids Sophie, the protagonist, on multiple occasions. Despite his unusual appearance, Turnip Head displays a sense of loyalty and kindness, following Sophie and helping her whenever she is in need.


The Role of Turnip Head in the Story

Turnip Head serves as a significant character in the plot, though his true identity and motives are not immediately clear. His presence adds a layer of mystery and magic to the story, and his actions influence the direction of the narrative. As the story progresses, it becomes evident that Turnip Head is more than just a magical scarecrow.


Sophie and Her Journey

Sophie’s Transformation

Sophie, a young hatter, is transformed into an old woman by a curse from the Witch of the Waste. This transformation sets her on a journey of self-discovery and adventure. Throughout the film, Sophie’s character evolves from a timid, self-doubting girl to a confident, compassionate woman who takes charge of her destiny.


Turnip Head’s Introduction

Turnip Head first appears when Sophie is struggling in the wilderness after her transformation. Despite his eerie appearance, he immediately shows his willingness to help by finding a suitable stick to use as a walking aid and later guiding her to Howl’s castle. This initial act of kindness establishes a bond between Sophie and Turnip Head, prompting him to follow her throughout the film.


Exploring the Loyalty of Turnip Head

Acts of Kindness and Assistance

Throughout “Howl’s Moving Castle,” Turnip Head performs various acts of kindness that demonstrate his loyalty to Sophie. He helps her find the castle, rescues her from dangerous situations, and even saves her life at one point. These actions highlight his dedication to Sophie and his desire to protect and support her.

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Symbolic Representation

Turnip Head’s loyalty can be seen as a symbolic representation of the themes of loyalty and love in the film. His unwavering dedication to Sophie, despite his appearance and mysterious origins, underscores the idea that true loyalty and love are not bound by physical form or superficial appearances. This theme resonates with Sophie’s own journey of self-acceptance and transformation.

The True Identity of Turnip Head

The Reveal

As the story unfolds, the true identity of Turnip Head is revealed in a surprising twist. Near the end of the film, after Sophie kisses Turnip Head in gratitude for saving her, he transforms into a human prince. It is revealed that he is Prince Justin, the missing prince from a neighboring kingdom who had been cursed and turned into a scarecrow.

The Curse and Its Implications

Prince Justin’s curse and transformation into Turnip Head add a layer of complexity to his character and his motivations. The curse explains why he was following Sophie—he was drawn to her kindness and purity of heart, which eventually led to the breaking of his curse. This revelation ties together the themes of magic, transformation, and the power of love and kindness.

Analyzing Turnip Head’s Actions

The Influence of the Curse

The curse placed on Prince Justin turned him into Turnip Head and compelled him to follow Sophie. The nature of the curse likely influenced his actions and motivations, driving him to seek out and assist Sophie in her journey. His loyalty and dedication can be seen as an intrinsic part of the magic that bound him to her.

The Role of Fate and Destiny

In many ways, Turnip Head’s actions reflect the themes of fate and destiny that run throughout “Howl’s Moving Castle.” His presence in Sophie’s life can be seen as a manifestation of the idea that certain events and relationships are destined to happen. Turnip Head’s journey alongside Sophie was an essential part of both their destinies, leading to the ultimate resolution of their respective curses.

Thematic Significance

Love and Sacrifice

One of the central themes of “Howl’s Moving Castle” is the transformative power of love and sacrifice. Turnip Head’s loyalty to Sophie, culminating in the breaking of his curse through her kiss, embodies this theme. His actions demonstrate that true love and loyalty often require sacrifice and selflessness.

Identity and Transformation

The theme of identity and transformation is prevalent throughout the film, with multiple characters undergoing significant changes. Turnip Head’s transformation from a scarecrow to a prince mirrors Sophie’s own journey of self-discovery and transformation. Both characters learn to embrace their true selves and find their place in the world.


Turnip Head’s unwavering loyalty to Sophie in “Howl’s Moving Castle” is a multifaceted aspect of the story that enriches the narrative and deepens the themes of love, sacrifice, and transformation. His actions are driven by a combination of the curse placed upon him and his innate sense of kindness and dedication. The revelation of his true identity as Prince Justin adds a layer of complexity to his character and highlights the power of love and destiny.

In the end, Turnip Head’s loyalty and the breaking of his curse serve as a testament to the enduring themes of the film. His journey alongside Sophie illustrates that true loyalty transcends physical appearances and superficial judgments, and that love and kindness have the power to transform and heal even the most seemingly insurmountable curses. Through Turnip Head, “Howl’s Moving Castle” delivers a timeless message about the strength of the human (and magical) spirit and the transformative power of love and loyalty.


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