In Hardy's short story, "The Son's Veto," what sacrifice did Sophy make for Randolph's sake, and what were the effects of her sacrifice?  

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Sophy made one very significant sacrifice for her son Randolph and it had very sad effects for her and perhaps also for Randolph. After the death of the Reverend Twycott, Sophy's learned and reclusive husband, and while she was living as a widow in her own little home across from the parsonage, she happened upon her old friend Sam Hobson of Gaymead.

As happens in reunions, time soon enough revealed that their loving feelings for each other still existed as they had almost two decades earlier. The sacrifice Sophy makes comes when Sam asks her again--with all modesty and humility due to her position as the widow of a clergyman and a lady--to marry him and live with him in Gaymead, a village they both love so well.

Sophy is hindered from accepting Sam as a husband because of her son Randolph. He has become fastidious and is ashamed of her humble background. At the same time, he has become covetous of an honored place as a gentleman among the gentlemen with whom he was educated. Sophy sacrifices personal happiness (and a restored bloom of health) in deference to Randolph's sentiments, which he initially expressed by a flood of tears:

by degrees she acquainted him with the whole. The youth's face remained fixed for a moment; then he flushed, leant on the table, and burst into passionate tears. ... [until he] recovered from his paroxysm

The effect for Sophy of this sacrifice was that she faded in health and after four short years was taken to her grave in Gaymead. The effect of Sophy's sacrifice on Sam was great loneliness and deep sorrow. The effect of Sophy's sacrifice on Randolph can only be speculated. Albeit, judging from Hardy's inclusion of a description of Randolph as "a young smooth-shaven priest in a high waistcoat [who] looked black as a cloud at the shop keeper [Sam]," it may be speculated that her sacrifice led to Randolph's becoming entrenched in his wrong-headed evaluation of power and wealth above true-heartedness and earnest love. All in all, yielding to her son's veto seems to have led to very unpleasant effects for all.

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