The Son’s Veto
by Thomas Hardy
Plot, characters, Themes
The Son’s Veto is a story that deals with three themes that occur throughout Thomas Hardy’s works, whether as a writer of short stories, as a novelist, and even as a poet. The themes are marriage, social class, and education. Summary
Sophy works as a servant to rural vicar Reverend Twycott. One day she receives a proposal of marriage from gardener Sam Hobson, but she doesn’t accept him. When she injures her foot in a fall down stairs, she thinks she will have to leave the vicarage, but Reverend Twycott (who is recently widowed) suddenly realises her worth and proposes to her, an offer which she accepts. Guilty from the feeling that he has committed ‘social suicide’ by marrying a servant, Twycott moves to a new ‘life’ in south London. Sophy and Twycott have a son, Randolph, who they send to a public school in preparation for Oxford or Cambridge, prior to taking up the ministry. When Twycott dies, Sophy lives in a small house he had the foresight to provide for her. She is bored by the ‘eventlessness’ of her existence, and estrangement from her son, who has adopted a superior and critical attitude to his uneducated mother. Eventually she meets Sam again when he is transporting vegetables to Covent Garden market. She tells him she is unhappy and wishes she were living back in the countryside. Their relationship comes to life again, and Sam proposes marriage to her for a second time. She accepts, even though she knows that by doing so she would lose the home and the living Twycott has provided for her. When she breaks the news of Sam’s proposal to Randolph her son, he forbids her to marry Sam because he feels that it would downgrade him in the eyes of his friends. Faced by this dilemma, Sophy asks Sam to wait, and he does so for five years, after which he repeats his offer. Sophy renews her appeal to Randolph, who is now an undergraduate at Oxford. Unrelenting, Randolph forces his mother to kneel down...
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