Compare and contrast how the relationship between parent and child is portrayed in Thomas Hardy's "The Son's Veto" and D.H. Lawrence's "A Fly in the Ointment."

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Thomas Hardy's, "The Son's Veto," and the short story, "A Fly in the Ointment" by D. H. Lawrence both tell stories of boys and their mothers.

In "The Son's Veto," the mother is a commoner who marries a man above her station. When her husband dies, she is left with a son who is critical and resentful of her lack of sophitication. When she wants to remarry, because this "new man" is not a "gentleman," the son makes his mother swear at an altar that she will not remarry without his consent. Four years later, there is a funeral in her home town, and we can assume that she has died without ever receiving his consent to remarry. When she had hoped to remarry a man who had loved her in her youth, her health improved and she had hopes of happiness; but being shut off from the world and utterly dominated by her snobbish, selfish and uncaring son, she dies, never realizing that happiness—having felt for most of her life like an outsider.

On a much different note, Lawrence's "A Fly in the Ointment" tells the story of a young boy in India who lives with his mother, father and young brother in the desert of India. They are very poor. While their father is out in the desert searching for food all day, Raj stays at home with the rest of his family. His mother and he have a very good relationship. He shares with her his excitement at seeing a lizard, and his disappointment when it gets away. His mother comforts him, saying there will always be more lizards. She gently teaches her young son to milk the goat. He does it twice on this particular day, and both times he looks to his mother for approval, and she gives it willingly, with a smile. He is gentle in nature, and happy to help his mother. He also listens to what she says without reproach, but with respect.

The boys in the stories treat their mothers very different. The only thing that the two boys in the story have in common is that they are sons and have mothers.

In "The Son's Veto," the son is unkind, intolerant and cruel. He thinks only of himself—never once concerning himself with his mother's feelings or happiness, not even responding to her heart-felt tears over his possible unhappiness.

In "A Fly in the Ointment," Raj is a loving and supportive child whose gentle nature and kind spirit help his mother make it through another day without food: but their spirits are high and the love in this family is apparent.