"Afternoons" is a melancholy poem, about the inevitability of change and the passing of youth. The poem, written by Philip Larkin, forces the reader to reflect upon the lifestyle of a young woman with a husband and family. Previously, I thought this would be a very fulfilling lifestyle; however, Larkin has changed my opinion on this matter. Although Larkin's thoughts on this life are completely biased, Larkin does make a valid point, which is that these young women lead a quite monotonous lifestyle.
Larkin puts across many themes throughout the whole poem. He effectively conveys the demands that children can have upon a parent's life, in particular, the mother. However, he also reflects upon the changes that occur in people's life as a result of having children. Philip Larkin has efficiently brought to our attention the lack of freedom which has been brought about by adopting a new role.
This is his main theme throughout the poem. He discusses this loss of freedom in great detail through his skilled techniques as a writer, including his powerful use of imagery and word choice.
In the opening verse, Larkin presents the idea of the dull, repetitive and empty life of a typical housewife when this poem was written between the nineteen fifties and the nineteen sixties. By setting such a scene so quickly, Larkin forced the reader to contemplate the truth of this opinion. Through word choice, Larkin presented this idea to the reader, when he says:
"In the hollows of afternoons"
The word "hollows" meaning empty and creates the impression that the mothers' lives are empty also. Larkin believes that the life of a woman who marries and has a child will become empty, will lack fulfilment and will be unhappy. When Larkin wrote this I...