Analyse the relationship between the mother and her son in The Son's
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 parlour maid she is not really seen but the vicar is
aware of her presence. When his first wife dies, the vicar begins to
notice Sophy. His attitude towards her, and other women, is insulting
and patronising especially when he refers to her not as a person but
as an animal, "What a kitten-like, flexuous, tender creature she was!"
The reason Sophy accepts the proposal from the vicar is because she is
too afraid to refuse a person with such importance. The reason the
vicar wants to marry her is for his own comfort and convenience and I
don't think these are the right reasons for either of them.
As well as class prejudice this story contrasts the values of the
country with those of the city. In the country it appears that people
of lower class have more freedom because they are the majority of the
population. When the story is set in the country descriptions are used
that show its beauty and not just in the higher class areas but all
over. In the city al the descriptions contain some negativity. All
types of people seem happier in rural areas and the urban areas
contain people who are always feeling superior or inferior, which
contributes greatly to the social environment in which they live.