Contrast and compare Sophy in "The Son's Veto" by Thomas Hardy to the narrator in "Sandpiper" by Ahdaf Soueif.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Both Sophy in "The Son's Veto" and the narrator in "Sandpiper" are women who are described as being profoundly dislocated by their current station and position in life. In "Sandpiper," the narrator finds herself trapped in Egypt in a culture that she does not understand and is not part of, and where she is left to daydream about the rain in her native Britain:

I press my palms to my face and picture grey slate roofs wet with rain. I picture trees; trees that rustle in the wind and when the rain has stopped, release fresh showers of droplets from their leaves.

The narrator's position is encapsulated in that of the sandpiper, the bird whose dwelling place is the thin strip of sand where sea and land meet. She is not able to return to her native Britain because of her daughter, nor is she able to be fully part of Egypt because of her background and culture.

In the same way, in "The Son's Veto," Sophy is a character who has been raised socially into the middle-classes. Yet this is something that has left her deeply unhappy, as she is made to feel ashamed of what she once was and still is by her son, who is clearly intent on rising up the social ladder yet further. She is thus trapped in a dreary life left only to daydream about her happy carefree days in her old village:

Nearly two years passed without an event, and still she looked on that suburban road, thinking of the village in which she had been born, and whither she would have gone back--O how gladly!--even to work in the fields.

However, she, like the narrator in "Sandpiper," is not allowed to return, as her son's pride keeps him from allowing her to marry her old sweetheart, Sam, and she is left to live her "dreary" life and to die alone and estranged from her true position in life.

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