How is disappointment portrayed in Hardy's "The Son's Veto" and Pritchett's "The Fly in the Ointment?"

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several kinds of disappointment in Hardy's "The Son's Veto" and Pritchett's "The Fly in the Ointment."

In Hardy's tale, Sophy's son is disappointed in his mother—shown first as impatience. By degrees, it becomes very harsh—like the son.

'He have been so comfortable these last few hours that I am sure he cannot have missed us,' she replied.

'_Has_, dear mother--not _have_!' exclaimed the public-school boy, with an impatient fastidiousness that was almost harsh. 'Surely you know that by this time!'

Later, Sophy's son expresses his embarrassment. 

I am ashamed of you! It will ruin me!...It will degrade me in the eyes of all the gentlemen of England!

When Sophy's son becomes an adult, his disappointment in his mother's inferior status (in his eyes) has become a kind of disgust and obstinance. Concerned more about himself, he refuses to let Sophy pursue her own happiness; it would seem he believes himself so superior that he shows her no respect whatsoever as a son should for his mother.

…finally taking her before a little cross and altar that he had erected in his bedroom for his private devotions, there bade her kneel, and swear that she would not wed Samuel Hobson without his consent.

Sophy's disappointment appears much differently. She cries when her son expresses his shame over her. She backs down from her wishes for happiness. And while she does persist a while in approaching the subject, her son finally stops her in her tracks by forcing her to promise before God that she will—in essence—obey him. An oath before God is not one Sophy would break. It does not take long until she just dies—while her son harbors a secret anger over her wish to find happiness with a shopkeeper—a man of her station when she was a young woman.

...from the mourning coach a young smooth-shaven priest in a high waistcoat looked black as a cloud at the shop keeper standing there.

In Pritchett's short story, the father shows his disappointment in a stoic fashion. His business is going under and his son comes to offer his moral support. The father explains...

'We've cleared everything up. They got most of the machines out today. I'm just locking up and handing over. Locking up is quite a business...Worrying? You keep on using that word. I'm not worrying. Things are fine,' said the old man, smiling aggressively. 'I feel they're fine. I know they're fine!'

The father does his best to show a nonchalance he does not feel about the business. However, he also never indicates that he feels responsible for his company's failure.

However, the man's biggest disappointment is in his son.

‘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.

In light of how the father feels, it is puzzling that the old man is so cordial to his son—who is disappointed that he cannot do more. 

I'm not rich. None of us is...we can't do anything...well, if it is ever a question of—well, to be frank, cash, I'd raise it somehow.

How unfortunate for the son to remind his father of the reason for his disappointment...except the word "cash" changes everything for the father:

'Raise it?' said the old man sharply. 'Why didn't you tell me before you could raise money? How can you raise it? Where? By when?'

Obviously, the father can get over his "disappointment" if his son has money—for money matters more than anything to this father.