Afternoons Philip Larkin - Ordinary Scene with Increased Significance

Philip Larkin’s poem ‘Afternoons’ shows how the most insignificant event can have an increased importance by the end of the poem. His description of young mothers taking their children to a playground seems like a common topic but once the poem is closely analysed Larkin’s point of view on life is skilfully expressed. What seems like an ordinary, everyday occurrence cleverly highlights Larkin’s theme of the inevitability of change and the passing of time. Larkin’s use of word choice, symbolism and imagery clearly portrays this passage of time and the routineness of these mothers lives.
The opening of the poem gives a vivid insight into the main themes of the poem through the ordinary scene of mothers taking their children to the park. The first line sets the scene at the beginning of autumn,
“Summer is fading.”
Seasons are used to symbolism certain stages in life. In autumn, most life starts to fade away and diminish in front of our eyes. This illustrates how these mothers lives are deteriorating, their children have become the only thing they live for. ‘Fading’ further emphasises how their lives are vanishing. This links to the title of the poem which shows how the poem deals with a normal event,
The use of plural suggests he is not discussing only one day but several days which illustrate how this is routine for these young mothers. They are doing the same things every day which show how monotonous their lives are. It could also express the stage of their lives they have reached. They are not in the early morning which could symbolise childhood but have not reached ‘night’ which could symbolism old age. The theme is exposed through these as their lives are ‘fading’ away due to the bombardment of motherhood. This shows the passage of time as these mother’s lives are passing by like the seasons of the year.
The emptiness of these mothers lives are shown through Larkin’s word choice. Larkin describes,
_“In the hollows of afternoons...