Veto by Thomas Hardy showing how their behaviour and attitudes were
affected by society.
"The Son's Veto" is a short story that focuses on a woman, Sophy, who
is torn between two conflicting social classes. Sophy is an uneducated
parlour maid who marries a man above her class to secure her future.
The son that is the outcome of the marriage is arrogant and self
centred. He acts as thought he is superior to his mother because of
his higher education and who he socialises with.
The relationship between Sophy and her son, Randolph, is poor because
they grew up in different classes. The thing that held their
relationship together was the father and husband. When he dies it is
as though the mother and son have nothing in common anymore. Social
attitudes have affected heir relationship because the mother cannot be
accepted into the son's class and the son will not be accepted into
the mother class because it will ruin his reputation.
At the beginning of the story, Hardy shows the social detachment
between Spohy and her son through the language he uses, "Has, dear
mother - not have!, exclaimed the public schoolboy". Hardy uses very
impersonal phrases to describe how Sophy is being treated as if she is
an object, "She was conducted out of the gardens and passed along the
There is an expectation of how Sophy would be treated as a disabled
woman. She noticed how people were interested in her but she did not
mind, "did not mind gratifying their curiosity". Sophy is seen as the
barter of the male and not as an individual. This means society treats
her differently because of this as well as being disabled.
When Sophy is the par...
... middle of paper ...
son. It is Randolph's insecurities and shame over his mother that
leads him to control her life. In this way, as long as he is there to
supervise her actions, he can take those extra precautions to prevent
any social embarrassment that may be inflicted upon him by his mother.
Sophy does not necessarily recognize this fact, but is only willing to
put his needs and wants before her own. She also feels a sense of duty
and obligation towards Randolph and therefore accepts what he says as
being final. Ultimately, Sophy believes it is his happiness she needs
to ensure and secure, not her own. This, sadly, is how she leads her
Hardy analyses the flaws existing in society today and gives a
fantastic example in showing how the "standards" set up by the public,
as well as the selfishness that prevails among the citizens in
society, destroyed Sophy's life.
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