What factors make you sympathize with Sophy in "The Son's Veto" by Thomas Hardy?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Hardy uses description, setting and characterization in the beginning of the story to establish and develop Sophy as a character we readily sympathize with, this despite the fact she is "an invalid" and is ill-spoken: "'Has,' dear mother--not 'have'! ... Surely you know that by this time!"

First, through description, we are acquainted with her hair that is "nut brown" and artfully woven like a basket. This causes much curiosity and admiration in the people sitting behind her at the garden concert. Hardy's description of this aspect of beauty--which is removed from the unsympathetic realm of vanity and pride by the mention that she has no ladies' maid and that her hair adornment is her only accomplishment--creates in the reader the same good will, admiration and curiosity that is created in the audience at the concert.

Later, through characterization, we are acquainted with her open, inviting gaze as curious people file past her at the concert's end. She doesn't mind their curious, though admiring, efforts to see her better and meets their gazes with a look from "soft, brown and affectionate orbs." This psychological characterization of Sophy, when added to her physical description, causes us as well as the characters who found "their way out by passing at her elbow" to sympathize with Sophy. In addition, emphasizing her character more, Randolph is characterized negatively, when we first hear from him, as being "impatient," fastidious and "almost harsh."  

The setting further develops Sophy as a sympathetic character. She is positioned by the bandstand (most often a round gazebo). She is positioned in a "green enclosure" by the bandstand. The green enclosure is a private garden set aside for residents of the surrounding area. This juxtaposition of Sophy to nurturing green, to the melody from a bandstand, to the secluded protection of a private garden all add to the factors that lead us and her fellow concert goers to sympathize with Sophy. [There are many more instances of each of these categorizes for you to identify and analyze.]

[She was] in the front part of a green enclosure, close to a bandstand, where a concert was going on, during a warm June afternoon ... in one of the minor parks or private gardens ...

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archita98 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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The son's veto is a short story written by Thomas hardy in 1984. It portrays the unusual relationship between a mother and her son. Sophy is a women who faces many obstacles in her life, she looses her husband and is left alone with her son, he is the only one in her life, due to which she is deeply attached to him and does not have the courage to point out anything he does wrong. Randolph, her son, seems to be taking advantage if this fact. He does not miss a chance to publicily correct or humiliate his mother. Randolph dominate's Sophy and is constantly in search of her flaws. This makes us sympathize with Sophy as her insecurity does not let her fix her situation. 

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