Comparing 19th and 20th centaury short stories

There are many differences between the 19th century (Son’s Veto) and the 20th centaury (Growing Up) story. The lifestyles in the story vary, the characters roles in society are vastly different. Also, the styles of writing used in the two pieces differ on some important aspects. Son’s Veto is a much more complicated story than Growing Up. It has longer, more advanced metaphors, furthermore, the order in which the story is told is not a straight forward chronological story like Growing Up is, but it jumps between decades and reveals the meaning of the story in a far more profound manner.

They both deal however with child/parent conflict and the helplessness a parent feels when turned upon by their own child Religion forms an important aspect of Son’s Veto. Both Mr Twycott and his Son were fully ordained vicars of the Church of England, but unfortunately Randolph’s religious beliefs have been tainted by the so-called education he received from the best schools in England.

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Sophy grew up in the country and therefore presumably had a traditional upbringing, taught to respect the church and to be a good God-fearing girl, she also worked in the vicarage for a time which shows she had a strong relationship with God and was willing to serve him. We already know that Sophie has great respect for God, for when the vicar asked for her hand in marriage, she was far to awed at being asked by a man of God, that this was enough to override the fact that she did not truly loved him. The main part that religion plays in Son’s Veto is the way it is abused by Randolph.

He stops his mother from marrying her old love Sam, whom Randolph believes is of a class to low for him to be associated with. Randolph drags his mother to an altar and forces her to swear by God that she will never marry Sam without his express permission. This part of the story shows Randolph’s cruelty and selfishness coming through, the exact emotions that he should of abandoned once he became ordained and took up the life of love, compassion and understanding, none of which he shows when he performs this brutal act.

He takes away his mothers happiness and condemns her to a joyless life and a lonely death. In his eyes, it is much better to have a miserable mother, than a happy mother and a low-class stepfather. He abuses his power as a Vicar and also his mother’s strong religious beliefs, effectively sentencing her to a wretched life of desolation, so that he is able to keep his public reputation. This section of the story also shows how strong her beliefs are. She has sworn in front of God that she will do something and she knows it is far too great sin to go against Gods word.

Perhaps she would have disobeyed her son if he hadn’t forced her to the alter but it unlikely that she would, someone who obeys their sons wishes for five years is unlikely to suddenly stop and disobey. Randolph however cannot see how much his approval means to his mother but is full aware of the influence the church has in her life goes against all he has been taught about God and exploits he position in the church for his own gain. A thing that a vicar should have no interest in anyway. Religion isn’t a major issue in Growing Up. There are a several references to Mrs.

Quick being a member of the local parish and also the local welfare comities. These imply a religious community with Christian values. Later in the story, Mrs. Quick and the local welfare committee are discussing a case about a ‘nice respectable’ boy who had robbed his mother’s till and run off in a stolen car. There is also mention that this boy attended Sunday School. Further signs of a Christian based community. This story is presumably met with indignation which would show the Quicks are living in a society based on Christian morals but do not appear to have their lives revolving around it as is the case in Son’s Veto.

A major theme in Son’s Veto is the role and status of women. In the days when it was set, women were little more than the property of men, bought and sold like slaves. A woman would work patiently working for her father, whilst waiting for a suitor to come along whom he would approve of. When that suitor came, she would marry the man and then work for him, doing the housework or governing the house, until she died. A marriage for woman was entering into a contract, they got food and a roof over their head, whilst the husband got his house clean and his meals cooked.

Women were offered stability and a future identity. Son’s Veto is about a woman who wanted to make her own decisions, but due to the age in which she lived was unable to. She dearly wished to marry someone who was of a lower class to her present status, but one who comes form the same background as herself whom she can relate with, but her son wouldn’t allow her to. Since the way society was structured at the time made her effectively Randolph’s property, she was unable to.

The image of how little power women had in this time is shown at the end of the story. When we are told that Sophy never leaves the house but merely stays pining for her lost Sam. “Why mayn’t I say to Sam the I’ll marry him? Why mayn’t I? ” This also seems to indicate a small amount of insanity creeping into her lonely life, shutting herself away and murmuring sad questions to herself, a poor neglected woman who cannot follow her will due to the prejudices of the day. We discover that after her husband’s death, Sophy has nothing to do.

When he was alive she could at least occupy herself with housework and its true that she may not have loved him, she did enjoy his company and she had had someone to talk to. But once he was gone there was simply nothing for a woman of that time to do. She could not work for she was too high class for that, she could not attend balls or go out unaccompanied for it was simply not done by high class ladies, which she was not but attempted to keep up the pretence for the sake of her son. She could not even look after her son for he was always off at school.

There was no financial aspect of her life to car for as her late husband had taken care of that long ago in the event of his death. Randolph had his life planned out so did not need his mothers advice. This type of incarceration wouldn’t be understood today but then back then it was how things were always done. A woman should be seen and not heard was the attitude of the day. They were simply not seen as equals. The only reason one notices the role and status of women in Growing Up is the stark contrast to that in Son’s Veto. Mrs.

Quick has simply left a note to Robert Quick to tell him that she was out and that she would be back at four. This shows an independence from the household which simply did not exist nor, more than likely, could have been comprehended 100 years ago in the time of Son’s Veto. Also the statement which Mrs. Quick made about men messing around shows how the perceived roll of women in the world and their control has changed drastically since the time of Hardy, “all you children… while we run the world”, this kind of thinking from anyone, especially a woman, in the 19th Centaury would of caused outrage.

There are also mentions of Mrs. Quick being a member of several committees, the parish and generally living a wholes personal life independent of her husband. She organises social events and invites people round to their house for meetings in which Quick himself is a mere onlooker, once again, a stark comparison to the state of affairs during the 19th century. Hardy has very definite views about education in Son’s Veto. The opinion voiced is that education has ruined Randolph’s spirit. “His education had by this time sufficiently ousted his humanity”.

This idea is occurs at different points of the story, when Sophy discovers that her only child, “on whose education no expense had been spared… was now old enough to perceive these deficiencies in his mother”. This is making a direct link between education and the fact that Randolph was becoming embarrassed of his mother due to her lack of education. Although women weren’t generally educated as well as men in Hardy’s time, there were still certain standards a woman of breeding was supposed to have.

But Sophy had been deprived of all these standards; although her late husband had tried to teach her certain things she was still basically an uneducated woman. Hardy seems to portray this as a good quality; once again referring to the belief that as education goes up human compassion goes down. Sophy still has a wonderful personality due to the fact she has never been educated, but due to the fact Rudolph has been educated he has lost his. It seems to be Hardy’s belief that as the education increase the human compassion goes down. This is shown in the two quotations above.

A boy who once loved his mother as all boys do was soon only able to feel contempt for her due to her lack of a ‘decent’ education that he had been privileged enough to receive. His years of boarding at upper class schools, being taught by the upper class and mingling with other members of the upper class had driven his prejudices in deep. Due to the fact that social class and education are so inextricably connected it became impossible for him to see his mother as anything but what he had been trained to see her, a commoner, because of her lack of education that is how he saw he, lower class, an embarrassment.

And that’s all there was to it, she wasn’t a mother, she was a simple commoner, but from his point of view, something even worse. Ordinary commoners couldn’t bring shame onto his name and ruin his public reputation but this woman who couldn’t even use grammar correctly would cause others to look down upon him just as he looked down upon her if she married another person from lower class then that would practically make him lower class, something he simply could not deal with at all. Education isn’t a central point in Growing Up.

We can glean that the two girls have certainly had some education and presumably enjoy it as they are shown to be reading in the garden. This is a feat which most children do not manage nowadays. From this we can deduce that the education for females is better in this time period and they have more liberties. The difference in the education of women is proven again when we find out Mrs. Quick has a job. Women can now take a responsible and active role in society; therefore they must have been educated to enable them to take on such roles.

The styles of the stories are different as well. Son’s Veto uses’ long, complicated sentences with unfamiliar dictation and long, extended metaphors. “wagon after wagon, bearing great bastions of cabbage nodding to their fall… pyramids of snow white turnips, swaying howdahs of mixed produce”. This type of writing is much more vivid and helps the reader to visualise the story and to become more involved with the characters. Hardy uses formal sentences and this coupled with the unfamiliar dictation makes the reader think they are reading a very grand and knowledgeable story.

The story is written as a series of flashbacks which help the reader become immersed in the plot more than chronological stories do. We are introduced to this beautiful yet crippled woman with the bratty child in the first section of the story, and we want to know how this state of affairs came about. We see the next section entitled “The Past” and are encouraged to read on to discover all we can about this woman. This is why the use of subheadings is also important. The story is spanned across one woman’s lifetime which helps the reader almost believe that they actually know Sophy.

Growing Up uses smaller, shorter sentences with more familiar dictation. This helps to make the reader feel comfortable and at ease with the text and will allow them to relate to the characters with greater easy. There aren’t many flashes of description in this story, but those which do come through are very visual and are able to draw a very definite picture in the readers head, “the sun just warming up in mid-May, slanting steeply past the trees, and even making old weeds shine red and gold”.

Joyce Cary chooses to use few metaphors in Growing Up and also chooses to tell the story in a more normal chronological order, which ones again makes the reader feel at ease with the text and able to digest the story as one normally would. This story is of just one afternoon which gives us a snippet of their lives, a window into someone’s trouble. The main aspect both of these stories deal with however is conflict between child and parent, and the helplessness felt by the parent in the situation. Despite this the attack by the offspring is very different in the stories.

Son’s Veto contains a story of a mental attack, a son forcing his mother to obey his wishes and not to marry a man he had deemed unworthy. Growing Up deals with an actual physical attack on a father by his two daughters. In Son’s Veto Sophy, the mother, finds herself helpless against her son’s onslaught for she knows that if she acts against his wishes it will harm him socially and she is desperate to protect him, as all mothers are of the children. She sacrifices her own life so that he may live his as he wishes, once again a very motherly act.

Even when he is destroying her happiness, she still loves him and would do nothing to harm him. Robert Quick in Growing Up deals with the same problem. He is in very great danger of being seriously harmed, possibly even killed, but he does nothing violent towards his daughters for fear of injuring them. His paternal instincts override his survival ones and he knows he must take it. Even when he is in so much danger he is thinking of his daughters well being more than he is thinking of his own.