In "The Son's Veto" by Hardy, what does the son veto, and why is he embarrassed about his mother?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Randolph veto's his mother's plan of marrying Sam, the sweetheart of her youth. After she is widowed by Vicar Twycott's death, she encounters Sam one day as if by chance, though he willingly confesses to intentionally looking for her as he had heard that she lived along that road:

'I can't come down easily, Sam, or I would!' she said. 'Did you know I lived here?'

'Well, Mrs. Twycott, I knew you lived along here somewhere. I have often looked out for 'ee.'

As they become reacquainted over time, Sam declares in his modest way that he still loves her and longs to have her as his wife--they would run a shop together in their village of Gaymead. Sophy admits that she would dearly like to accept but that her son, who "seems to belong so little to [her] personally," would have to be "informed." She secretly fears this because she doubts Randolph would approve and more greatly doubts she could "defy him" and marry against his protests.

This is where the son's veto begins. When she tells him that she plans to marry a man from her village who is not "what [he] would call a gentleman," Randolph "burst into passionate tears." Sophy cannot defy him and go against his desires--he knows that having a mother married to a village peasant shop keeper would ruin his standing in society and his chances for the kind of success he is aiming at. His passion of tears is his first veto (veto: the right to reject a decision or plan made by another) by which he rejects his mother's desires.

As the years passed, and Randolph held more psychological and social power over his mother, no matter how often she brought up the idea that now she could surely marry Sam quietly, Randolph unceremoniously and pitilessly rejected the idea and forbade her do so. He thus vetoed her desire to marry Sam literally until her dying day.

The primary reason he vetoes her like this is that he is already humiliated and embarrassed by his mother's low social and educational status and correctly speculates that should she marry a villager of her same social, economic, and educational status, he would lose all prestige in society. He would thus be cut from working and socializing in the choicest and highest circles of society--circles he was introduced into as a schoolboy because of his father's care in educating him at the best school and university.

[W]hen he did [speak] it was to say sternly at her ...: 'I am ashamed of you! It will ruin me! A miserable boor! a churl! a clown! It will degrade me in the eyes of all the gentlemen of England!'

princessria007 | Student

the son veto's the power & the rule over her mother , for example Sophy/ the mother does as she is told by her son and does not stand for her right.

She pleaded with Randolf to let her re-marry to Sam. At first he is interested to hear that his mother wishes to re-marry. As soon as he finds out it’s just a country man, Sam, he changes his mind and becomes very emotional“I am ashamed of you! It will ruin me! A miserable boor! A churl! A clown! It will degrade me in the eyes of all the men in England.”.


This also tells us that Randoplh is not only embarssed by his mother it also shows that he is extremely selfish and has no humanity

asimradhrani | Student

the sons veto in everything. ho only thinks about himself and doesnt respect his mother. while he is embarrassed about his mother as she is ill-literred.

archita98 | Student

In the sons veto by Thomas Hardy, the sons veto is the domination and rule over his mother. In the olden times marrying someone of a lower socil status was considered be to 'social suicide'. Sophy had been lonely after her husbands death and was in desperate need of a companion. Sam, a gardener who had loved sophy before her marriage shows up several years later and asks sophy to marry him. Sophy wants too, but feels the need to take her son's consent. Her son simply refuses. He is embarassed with her mother as marrying a gardener would 'degrade him in the eyes of all men in England'.