Literature / The Son's Veto

The Son's Veto is an 1891 short story written by Thomas Hardy. It tells the story of Sophy, a crippled former servant who marries her boss, the widower Reverand Twycott, vicar of the small town Gaymead, after leaving her fiancé Sam, a gardener. Fearing judgement for marrying a simple servant, Rev. Twycott moves to the city and they have a son named Randolph, who grows up to be even more ashamed and embarrassed of his mother.

Years later, when Randolph is a young man and the vicar has been dead for two years, Sophy meets Sam again, who wants to marry her. Randolph, who has long assumed the position of authority, refuses, on account of Sam being a mere uncultured gardener.


This short story provides examples of:

  • Bratty Half-Pint: Randolph; established when he snappily corrects Sophy's grammar.
  • Downer Ending: Sophy dies alone and unhappy.
  • Jerkass: Randolph
  • Dumb Is Good: Sophy and Sam are simple but sweet. Sophy has been educated during her adult life but doesn't grasp certain subjects fully.
  • Lower-Class Lout: Randolph refuses to let Sophy marry Sam because he believes Sam is this.
  • Meal Ticket: Why Sophy marries the Vicar; also initially a reason she gives for wanting to marry Sam.
  • Nouveau Riche: Sophy after marrying the Vicar. Subverted in that she is not vulgar or brash, but sweet and simple-minded.
  • On One Condition: Sophy is able to enjoy a comfortable upper-class lifestyle after the vicar dies, but is left with zero financial control.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: The Vicar and Sam respectively.
  • Shrinking Violet: Sophy could be the Trope Codifier
  • Social Climber: Randolph bases all his decisions on whether it'll hurt or help his image.
  • Unable to Support a Wife: Averted with Sam: though he couldn't offer Sophy the same kind of lifestyle that the vicar did, his plans to open a fresh produce shop with her hardly meant that they would be starving.
  • Unequal Pairing: While Twycott sincerely loved Sophie, she accepted his proposal out of respect and fear of his higher social standing rather than love.
  • Wicked Cultured: Randolph is stated to have had what little kindness he had in him squashed out by his education, making him a Justified example.

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