Describe the character Sam Hobson in "The Son's Veto" by Thomas Hardy.

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Sam is an interesting character. There are three prominent sections where we find out the most about Sam. A good question that emerges is whether or not Sam underwent character development (change in character as a result of growth, understanding, regret, epiphany, etc) as a result of his interactions with Sophy the story progresses.

In the first scenario of interest, Sam interacts with Sophy and offends her because he wants to romance her (in an modest and era-appropriate manner) on a day on which she is in grief and (probably) shock at her mistress's passing, in other words, while she is still exhausted and emotionally drained after the death of the Vicar's wife. Here, Sophy rebukes Sam and enters her parent's home with feelings of disapproval toward Sam's insensitivity to the situation that death calls forth.

Then we find that while Sam and Sophy have become engaged, she is not that keen on marrying him though aware that it will be practical and give her a home of her own. Suddenly, we are told of a quarrel and a permanently broken engagement. We have no clue at all to the cause. We can only extrapolate from the small exposure to his behavior discussed above what Sam may have done to alienate Sophy--for we surely feel the breach was Sam's fault.

Through extrapolating values and related actions, it may be that Sam asserted what Sophy would and would not do after they were married, or perhaps he began to demand more of her physically than she was willing to give before the wedding. What we can surmise is that somehow or other, Sam asserted his will in a way that was wholly unacceptable to Sophy, who has a broader world perspective and higher values of good and right than he does. Perhaps it might be said that Sophy felt Sam was morally beneath her.

The second scenario of interest to a character sketch is when they re-encounter each other. All the initiative for the encounter is on Sam's part; from this we know that his feelings for Sophy have not dimmed over the years, especially since he married no one else. He hears of the Vicar's death. He looks for and takes a job at a grocer's in the neighborhood near Sophy. He learns what street she lives on. He deliberately drives her street to market every day and deliberately looks out for some sign of her everyday. If we accept the idea that we extrapolated above, that Sam was to blame and was somehow lower morally than Sophy, we can see that Sam is not vengeful and that he is very determined and very ingenious in pursuit of his desired end: reunion with Sophy. When they do meet, Sam displays great and completely sincere courtesy, respect, gentleness, thoughtfulness, and kindness. He puts Sophy first in all actions though he does suggest what might be in her best interest and helps to attain her best interest: riding in a buggy, speaking to her son.

The third scenario is his deportment as Sophy's funeral procession passes by. He humbly stands on the side of the road, a participatory observer rather than a participant in her funeral. He is humble, full of deep mourning, and (possibly) full of regret. It is entirely possible, when these three scenarios are examined together, that a character sketch of Sam must include a psychological movement from self-absorption to other-focused sensitivity and to a deep mournful regret that his inability to grasp a wider worldview--seeing beyond his self-interest--led to failed love between him and Sophy and to lifelong mournful misery for both. [This analysis also identifies two protagonists for the story: Sophy and Sam.]

a middle-aged man was standing at the door of the largest fruiterer's shop in Aldbrickham. He was the proprietor, but to-day, instead of his usual business attire, he wore a neat suit of black; and his window was partly shuttered.... The man, whose eyes were wet, held his hat in his hand as the vehicles moved by, ....

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What would be the main points to write about in Sam Hobson's character sketch from "The Son's Veto" by Thomas Hardy?

We have two perspectives on Sam Hobson from which to draw elements for a character sketch. The first is when he is introduced in the flashback description of Sophy's early life while the second is when Sam deliberately reenters Sophy's life after she is widowed.

In the flashback, what we learn about Sam is framed by his relationship with Sophy and is a tad confusing. We learn (1) he waits for Sophy outside the Vicarage to walk her home very often: "she discerned, without much surprise, the figure of [Sam]"; (2) he has a respectful and philosophical bent the same as Sophy has: "these two young people, in that elevated, calmly philosophic mind ..."; (3) that he is practical: "will you stay on now at the Vicarage"; (4) that he is very affectionate toward Sophy (also that he's tall): "his arm stole round her waist ... He stooped to kiss her"; (5) he and Sophy disagree over principles and that Sophy has higher principles. Since we know these things, it is no great surprise when later he proposes and when, shortly after, they quarrel and split up.

When Sophy and Sam reunite, we find that Sam has ingenuity, since he contrived to move to and get a job in her vicinity of South London; that he still loves Sophy; that he is more respectful of circumstance than of old (though he has to be reminded: "I forget, ma'am, that you've been a lady for so many years"); that he laid and pursued a plan until it led him to Sophy; "I knew you lived along here somewhere. I have often looked out for 'ee"; that he is gentle, thoughtful, loving, and surprisingly persevering, though he never reaches success with Sophy like he reaches success as a fruit grocer:

Some four years after this date a middle-aged man was standing at the door of the largest fruiterer's shop in Aldbrickham. He was the proprietor, but to-day, ... he wore a neat suit of black ... [his] eyes were wet [and he] held his hat in his hand as the [funeral procession] moved by ....

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