How does Larkin present family life in his poems?

How does Larkin present family life in his poems? Profoundly influenced by his parents’ unhappy marriage, most famously summed up in ‘This be the Verse’, Larkin remained unmarried and childless his whole life. In the Whitish Weddings, poems such as ‘Afternoons’, ‘Self’s the Man’ and ‘Dockers and Son’ explore his complex and rigid emotion on the subject. The fact that his determination never to marry or have children was a direct consequence of what he witnessed of his parents’ marriage, he described family life as being “an enormous absurdity’.Dockers and Son’ suggests a traditional family business. It implies the idea of legacy and opens to question what is passed down from generation to generation. The phrase ‘Dockers and Son’ encapsulates the relationship between father and son: where the father is honored with a name, but the son is defined as an object the father and is not assigned his own name or personality. In Dockers and Son, Larkin reflects on how people take different pathways with their life metaphorically portrayed through the platforms “Joining and parting lines”.

This gives the impression that everyone has a destiny as life is already laid out on pre-laid tracks. At one point, Larkin takes an emotional leap in the poem and a sense of regret and disappointment settles with Larkin as he registers he has “no son, no wife, no house or land”. Even though he realizes how much time has passed, he still seemed to him that it was “quite natural” to have a lack of substance in his life. This shows to the reader that even though, in comparison to Dockers, he has nothing, he is still content with how his life has been destined.

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He asks a rhetorical question “why did he think ding meant increase? ” failing to understand why Dockers saw a family as being enhancing. To Larkin, “it was dilution”, believing that having a family would be a dilution of his essential and autonomous nature. He refers to family life as being “warp tight-shut, like door” implying that family life is a trap we can’t escape from and a “habit for a while”. Larkin, overall, presents family life as being burdening, reinforced as they “rear like sand-clouds” implying that attaining a family is suffocating and often a nuisance.The ending comment in this poem signifies Larrikin simplistic view of life on the whole, revealing “whether or not we use it, it goes”, showing that death is inevitable regardless of whether you choose to start a family or not, “the only end of age”. In ‘Self’s the Man’, we witness Larrikin cynicism towards relationships and his satirical attitude of marriage. He presents family life, by mentioning the father “wasting his life on work.

.. To pay for the kiddies’ clobber and the drier and the electric fire”.Through the colloquial language, we can sense his disdain and lack of respect for family life.

His sardonic tone of ‘kiddies’ shows that he isn’t take that type of lifestyle seriously, and almost feels superior to the men “who married a woman to stop her getting away’ obviously suggesting that the wife had given them an ultimatum. The mocking tone of the wife is shown by the imperative “put a screw in the wall” which shows the wife as being constantly controlling and nagging.Larkin portrays being married as having constant interference and having how Arnold’s life has been reduced to specific mundane tasks such as “the hall to paint in his old trousers”, an institution which is clearly not for Larkin.

The repetition f ‘and’ in this stanza highlights the boredom and endearing life Arnold leads, as Larkin believes. “Arnold is less selfish than l” is because Larkin understands that Arnold has done a deed in marrying, and needed selflessness in order to achieve it.Larkin implies you have to be self-sacrificing in order to start a family. He ends this poem with the sense that selling yourself to family life is like being sent to a mental institute as he can lead a life “without them sending a van”. In ‘Afternoons’, Larkin watches housewives and their children gather each afternoon in the municipal laggardly and imagines their common experience: marriage, children, the daily routine of housework, the acquisition of household goods.The poem opens with the suggestion of time passing, of summer “fading”, and this sense of decay and decline is developed through the rest of the poem. The reference to summer receding is a mirror of the women’s lives, as the “leave fall in ones and twos”. This gradual admonishment of their previous life reinforces their stage of maturing as they become mothers.

Because the change is hardly noticeable, this conveys that the women are prided of a fulfilled life and suggestive that a new season, echoes a new start for the women.The afternoons are described as ‘hollows’ as if to represent a lull or trough in these women’s lives. The reference to the mothers being young’ suggests their vulnerability and naivety, having lost their youthfulness. Larkin believes that by attaining a family, one has lost their chance of obtaining a fulfilled life.

“The wind is ruining their courting places”, means that the passage of time has ruined their childhood memories, even though the “lovers are all in school”, the next generation ho are young and unripe.Larrikin attitude to children is shown as disdainful, conveying children who “expect to be taken home” showing their demanding nature. He also believes that they are draining of his own identity. Larkin imagines the women’s uneventful future stretching before them, the repetition of similar afternoons, and concludes with the powerlessness in the face of time in the last comment “something is pushing them, to the side of their own lives”. Their significance has deteriorated and the mothers seem regimented.

They are not the enter of attention anymore, as their children have replaced them.Larrikin language contains simplicity and profundity into the face of the universal cycle of generation. In conclusion, Larkin gives a cynical view of family life, truly believing that it would dent his identity if he sacrificed himself to this ‘institution. ‘ Although he clearly shows he resents the idea of family life, he sometimes does question his destiny and doubt whether he has any substance and depth in his life, in comparison to some of the people he observes, even though, in his opinion, are lacking a fulfilled life.