How does Thomas Hardy characterize the son in "The Son's Veto"?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hardy seems to have little problem in depicting the son in a very intensely cold manner.  Sophy finds herself almost imprisoned by the wishes of her son.  There is a fundamental collision between she and her child.  She wishes to act upon her freedom, to conceive of a life that she might be able to live.  Yet, her son demands that she conform to the life of what is socially acceptable.  Randolph associates his mother with a lack of culture and civility.  Seen in the cringing manner he responds when she speaks and almost in her being, he is characterized as being both ashamed of his mother and unwilling to allow her to live her own life.  

To an extent, Sophy has internalized Randolph's view of her in terms of how she sees herself:  "He seems to belong so little to me personally, so entirely to his dead father. He is so much educated and I so little that I do not feel dignified enough to be his mother."  In this quote, Randolph is shown to possess a controlling personality, one that influences how Sophy's view of self is dictated by her son.  Hardy's characterization of Randolph is a controlling one, a sense of personality that ensures that his mother not only sacrifice her happiness for his, but do so in a manner where he is able to influence how she perceives herself.