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'Afternoons' by Philip Larkin.

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Introduction

Joe Murphy 'Afternoons' 31 January 2004 A poem which reflects on the subject of marriage is 'Afternoons' by Philip Larkin. The poem deals with Larkin's view on young mothers watching their kids playing in a playground and on this he concludes that marrying young and having children young, lead to the mothers losing their identity and destiny. The techniques used by the poet such as theme, imagery and tone deepened my understanding of the issue. The structure of the poem is simple; there are three stanzas with eight lines in each. However, unlike every other poem by Larkin this layout has no direct meaning. The lines are unrhymed. The first stanza deals with Larkin's rather cynical view of marriage and deals with the idea that the young mothers are isolated. Larkin's brilliant use of language emphasis the recurring theme of emptiness within the young mothers and how regimented their lives have become; 'In the hollows of afternoons' and 'young mothers assemble'. In the second stanza Larkin moves from the general view into the individual and describes the mother as belonging to a middle class background. ...read more.

Middle

The children within the school are not mature enough to realise what 'courting' means. A grim humour is assumed when the reader realises these children still have a future wereas the young mothers do not.The tone of the poem has become increasingly more cynical. Larkin refers to how regimented the mothers lives are again when they are 'expected' to pick up their children from school. The women have changed immensely with the pressures and responsibilities that the child has brought, they are putting on weight and losing their looks, probably due to having the children. 'Their beauty has thickened'. The young mothers lives are now and entirelly centred upon the children and their daily routine. Something then is 'pushing them to the side of their life' this seems an inevitable fate. The reader then gets the idea of a force of nature or time making the children a more important factor than themselves. The quote almost suggests that the women seize to have a worthwhile life of their own. ...read more.

Conclusion

Larkin describes thoughout the poem how marrying young and having children young effectively ruin your life. Larkin believes that by having children young, 'mothers' are restricting their lives. He indicates that the mothers have nothing to do but their regimented routine after having their children. 'Young mothers' lose their identity and are dominated by responsibility, they have lost control of what is truly their own. 'something is pushing them to the side of their lives'. The poem 'Afternoons' by Philip Larkin made me think considerably about having children young especially at my age, 17. The idea that Larkin portrays, that young parents, in particular young mothers lose control of their lives as soon as they have a child. Personally I believe that Larkin's message is made more effective and memorable because he tells it in a very simplistic manner in which the reader can clearly understand. However, Larkin likes the reader to be challenged and tells his ideas via a very implicit manner. His use of theme, imagery and tone deepened my understanding of the issue and I believe the poem provides a great thinking point to any young teenagers considering having children. ...read more.

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