Compare and contrast how the relationship between parent and child is portrayed in "The Son's Veto" by Thomas Hardy, and V.S. Pritchett's "The Fly in the Ointment."

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Thomas Hardy's, "The Son's Veto," and "The Fly in the Ointment" by V.S. Pritchett both tell stories of a young man and his parent. However, the role each "boy" assumes in the story is very different.

In "The Son's Veto," the young man's mother married his father—an older man. She had worked for him in his country house; she was below his station, but she had been injured while caring for his home, to the extent that she would never be able to walk and earn her keep. They marry and have a son who grows to be a snob. When his father dies and his mother is left alone—as her son spends barely any time with her...always away at school, etc.—she meets a man who had once loved her. As a widow, she is free and can marry and find happiness. However, when her son finds out, he refuses to allow her to marry someone so "low," fearing for his own reputation. He forces her to promise she will never marry without his consent. Ultimately, she dies waiting.

In "The Fly in the Ointment," Harold goes to visit his father at his place of business. His father has gone bankrupt and his son feels he should be there with his father during this painful transition of leaving everything he has known for thirty years behind.

The old man is not a very nice person. Pritchett describes their meeting in the old man's office.

"Come in, Professor," said the father. This was an old family joke. He despised his son, who was, in fact, not a professor but a poorly paid lecturer at a provincial university.

As they visit, the old man speaks of the mistakes he has made: the biggest was making money the most important thing in his life. However, as the old man speaks, his son notices that he has two "faces."

...the son noticed for the first time that like all big-faced men his father had two faces. There was the outer face like a soft warm and careless daub of innocent sealing-wax and inside it, as if thumbed there by a seal, was a much smaller one, babyish, shrewd, scared and hard.

Harold is slightly put off by what he sees, but tries to encourage his dad. While his father has the "big face" on, he is cheerful, making the best of things. It seems that when the "small face" comes out, he becomes critical of his son. However, throughout, we feel that his father is ready to retire having learned an important life-lesson, seeing his mistakes for what they were. Toward the end of the story, Harold tells his father that had it been possible, he would have found some way to raise money to save the business. Swiftly, like a hawk scooping up a gentle mouse, the old man turns on his son (with the small face)—forgetting all he has said about learning a lesson, ignoring the fact that he despises his son, he demands:

Why didn't you tell me before you could raise money? How can you raise it? Where? By when?

The only things these stories have in common is that there are two young men and each has a parent, and in each story, there is one character who cares for the other, while the first character has no regard for the other, caring only for self. There is one similarity between the stories. Whereas the young man in "The Son's Veto" cares nothing for his mother who has loved him with deep devotion her entire life, Harold (in "The Fly in the Ointment") is the one who shows concern...for his father—an old man who has despised him...but not the money the thinks his son might bring him.

amiino | Student

the parent/child realationship in ''tsv'' & the ''fino'' is potrayed by an inbalance in power, one-sided love & abuse.the parent/child relationship is weak due to the children having control over there parent!in the 'tsv' randolph has power over sophy because she obays his rules & she loves him too much th refuse. in the 'fino' harold has the power over the father due to the father's bankrup & lose of money his son harold has money.

there is an inbalance in power in both poems. in 'tsv' randolph has the power over sophy. he has the power over because she loves him toom much to say a word to him! when sophy wanted to get married to sam but she took randolph's opinion first but he refused, horrified that his reputation as a 'higher class person' would be ruined so he refused sophy to marry sam and made her swear not to marry him without his the 'fino' it's the oposite where the child harold has power over the father! he has the power due to the father's bankrup because he has money while his father is the father is in need for money to re-start his business & his son has that money but he doesn't know until the end.that's how there is an inbalance of power in both poems.

one-sided love is shown in both the 'tsv' sophy loves her son, randolph while he doesn't love her back. this is shown in the story when randolph made his mum swear to god never to marry sam without his approval & ignoring her happiness & thinking about himself and his 'class'. she accepted because she loves him & she wants his happiness over the 'fino' harold loves his father where he saw the father's will to change into being a better person & not a money freak...when he wanted to live neat the beach so he offered him money but the father doesn't love him & doesn't appreciate his concern he rather started questioning him about the money & when he could re-start is business & not to live in a hut! that's how one-sided love is potrayed in both poems.

abuse is showen in both poems as 'tsv' randolph abuses his mother, sophy.sophy got abused by her son, randolph when he made her swear & not only swear but on her knees not to marry sam without his approval. in the 'fino' the father abuses his son, harold by telling him that he doesn't make alot of money & this should have been his concern in life , that education will not do anything useful to him & making fun of him for being a poorly paid lecturer in a universty. that is how abuse is shown in both poems.

overall both stories the children have the power over there parents, either if it's by love weakens the person or  the power of money. love is shown different in both stories in the the 'tsv' love is shown by the parent not the child  it's totally the oposite in the 'fino' where the love is given by the child not the father, either if it's if it's becaus over control weakens the love or love for money. abuse is shown in 'tsv' by the son over the mother & in the 'fino' the father abuses his son either if it's by action or words.

amiino | Student

i ment stories not poems!!

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