“The Son’s Veto” is a short story written by Thomas Hardy

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“The Son’s Veto” is a story about a mother who sacrifices everything for a son who doesn’t seem to care about her. Originally she had been a servant who worked for Mr Twycott, the local vicar. During her work period she falls down the stairs and becomes disabled. Because of guilt Mr Twycott asks Sophy to be his wife, so she accepted. As time passes she has a son called Randolph, who is highly educated. Mr Twycott now lies in his grave. Sophy sits in her wheel chair alone while her son studies in Oxford and her son only visits her in the holidays.

Later she meets Sam Hobson, a former friend who was in love with her and worked as a gardener in Gaymead. He made her feel wanted and energetic. She now falls in love with him and Sam proposes to her but she worries about what her son would say to this proposal. Randolph is by then a young vicar whose reputation is more important to him than his mother. He says no to the marriage and makes her promise on the cross never to marry or see Sam again. Four years later Sophy dies. Her son, standing at her funeral, does not seem upset but angry, looking directly at Sam Hobson who was just standing there giving his respects to Sophy.

Hardy opens the story by writing about Sophy’s hair. He used the beauty of the hair to describe her after she became disabled. Hardy suggests how deserted she became when her husband died. Nevertheless Sophy has nothing else to do except her hair. ‘To the eyes of the man viewing it from behind, the nuts-brown hair was a wonder and a mystery. ‘ This shows that she is a mystery and nobody knows her. She is very alone and has no friends so the only person that she could rely upon is her son. We soon learn that all of her friends and family are left behind because of her social background and the language she used.

It seems that Mr Twycott did not want her to associate with anyone. The reason why they moved away was because they wanted to be far from the people in the local area because rumour would proclaim that Mr Twycott has married someone from the lower class and this would make their reputation look bad. It is also because Sophy’s English was poor. She got confused with the words ‘was’ and ‘were’. This is indicative of her lower social position. Sophy had been a servant at Mr Twycott’s household. She worried about telling him that she was going to get married to Sam Hobson and she wasn’t going to work there any more.

She didn’t love Sam but his love for her was greater. ‘I’ve never even said I liked’ ee; and it is all your own doing, coming after me! ‘ Sophy tells Mr Twycott that she didn’t love Sam. The reason for her considering marriage to Sam because she has to marry some day and also she can have a home of her own. ‘But it will be home for me. And we have heard that one of us will have to leave. ‘ The speech ‘one of us will have to leave’ is her excuse to leave. She doesn’t want him to feel upset, because she respected him, so she said that she wasn’t going to leave just yet.

That made him more contended. ‘What a kitten-like, flexuous, tender creature she was! ‘ This also made him cheerful. Mr Twycott felt attracted to Sophy. He noticed her and wondered what he should do if Sophy had gone. On the day Sophy brought Mr Twycott a meal when he was ill. She left the room and tripped down the stairs and become disabled. Soon, when Mr Twycott got better, he announced how much he appreciated what she went through on his account. ‘No, Sophy; lame or not lame, I cannot let you go. You must never leave me again! ‘ As he felt attracted to her he kissed her on her check.

When describing Sophy’s reation Hardy writes, ‘She could never tell exactly how it happened’ This shows that their marriage was too quick and they didn’t have time to think it over. Mr Twycott had then proposed and she said yes. ‘Sophy did not exactly love him, but she respected him’ Sophy respected him, although love wasn’t there. He could take care of her and she didn’t want to refuse such a gentleman. She therefore agreed to marry. When they were finally married Mr Twycott had made a mistake in marrying her. ‘Mr Twycott knew perfectly well that he had committed social suicide by this step’

He didn’t think of all the consequences and soon they moved. Mr Twycott died fourteen years later. She had a son called Randolph. Sophy seem to be in her own world along with two servants as her son drifted further away. ‘In her son’s eyes – a mother whose mistake s and origin it was his painful lot as a gentleman to blush for. ‘ Her son had little respect for her because of the language she used. She was not speaking in proper English. But Sophy had tried her best. ‘Has, dear mother – not have! ‘ When he corrects her it makes us think he doesn’t love her.

Hardy suggests she could have corrected him. ‘By bidding him to wipe that crumby mouth of his,’ This shows how much she loved him. It also shows Hardy’s contempt for this boy. As Randolph started to go to college, Sophy saw less of him. But he came to visit her in holidays. That made Sophy’s life a misery. Some how she needed some affection from someone. She needs to feel wanted again. As time went on she saw her former friend, Sam Hobson. Their renewed friendship made her wonder if she would ever have had a better life with Sam if she married him instead of Mr Twycott.

As they got acquainted they started to spend more time together. When she says, ‘No I am not a lady,’ It shows how much she felt excluded from her social life and how many people treated her. She was not treated like a lady but differently because of the way she spoke. Mr Twycott was a gentleman but Sophy isn’t a lady. More connection was felt between Sam and Sophy. ‘It grew lighter and lighter. The sparrows became busy in the streets, and the city waxed denser around them… ‘ ‘The air and Sam’s presence had revived her: her checks were quite pink – almost beautiful.

She had something to live for in addition to her son,’ This had given her a new life and she felt more important and excited. She loved Sam more. Then the final question arose and Sam proposed to her. Sophy was uncertain what she would say but told him that she would only agree if her son agrees to the marriage. As her son came to visit her on his holidays Sophy told him her situation with Sam. Randolph was bad tempered and disapproved. He asked if that man was a gentleman but she said, ‘Not what you call a gentleman’… Randolph reacts angrily, forbidding the marriage.

I owe this to my father! ‘ This shows that his reputation is more important to him than his mother. He didn’t love her and he used the excuse of ‘I owe this to my father’ but really he knows that it has nothing to do with his father but has everything to do with his own reputation. He is selfish, spoilt and he says that Sam wasn’t a gentleman. He doesn’t spend time with her and doesn’t show any affection to his mother. Then Randolph makes her swear on the cross. He thinks that she couldn’t be trusted. ‘And swear that she would not wed Samuel Hobson without his consent. ‘

In his selfishness he uses religion against her so that she can’t marry Sam. Four years later, Sophy had died. Sam Hobson stands in her funeral sad as Randolph stares at Sam showing hatred for him in his eyes. Randolph is a vicar who doesn’t cry at his mother’s funeral. That shows he doesn’t love her. Instead he is thinking of the anger he has for Sam. Hardy is exposing Randolph’s hypocrisy and selfishness. His role is to show a religious figure of himself to the community who cares for people and makes them understand that caring for others is the key, but instead he cannot provide the same understanding for his mother’s need.

Nowadays it is different. Women would behave differently. If this situation had happened they would still go ahead and marry the man. Even if a their son asks them to promise then it would be less likely to make a difference because religion is practised by fewer people. If anyone asked their mother not to marry the man whom they don’t like, then the reason for their rejection would be less likely to be social class, however it could be because of racism, religion or jealousy.

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