This is a melancholy poem, which reflects on the subject of marriage. The poem deal with Larkin’s view on young mothers watching their children playing in a playground and he concludes that marrying young leads to the mothers losing their identity. Larkin’s description of young mothers taking their children to a playground seems like normal but the narrator’s point of view on life is expressed. What seems like an ordinary, everyday occurrence highlights the theme of change and how it cannot be avoided and the passing of time.
Larkin’s choice of words, symbolism and imagery clearly portrays this passage of time and the routines of these mothers’ lives. The first line sets the scene at the beginning of autumn, “summer is fading. ” Seasons are used to symbolise certain stages in life. In autumn, most life starts to fade away in front of our eyes. This illustrates how these mothers lives are deteriorating, and how their family have become the only thing they live for. ‘Fading’ further emphasises how their lives are vanishing.
This links to the title of the poem and the use of plural suggests he is not discussing only one day but several days which shows 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 symbolise old age. The emptiness of these mothers lives are shown through Larkin’s choice of words.
Larkin describes, “In the hollows of afternoons Young mothers assemble… Setting free their children. ” This shows just how mundane these women’s lives are. ‘Hollows’ illustrates how empty their lives are, and the only thing their days are fulfilled is by caring for their children. Their lives seem disciplined which is shown through the fact the ‘assemble’ together. It also suggests they are expected to do this every day as you do not usually have the choice to attend an assembly. There is a contrast between the lives of these mothers and their children.
They can be ‘set free’ which shows they can do whatever they please, they have the freedom and opportunity to live their lives unlike their mothers who are trapped by their monotonous lives. They cannot change the life they have created for themselves and they have no control over their options in life; marriage and motherhood have decided their life for them. This shows that these mother’s lives will never change. They watch as their children play freely while time passes them by and they do not have a future to look forward to as it will be the same as every other day.
The choice of words emphasises this, and shows the theme time. The narrator’s observations of these women’s lives show just how much time has affected them. As the poem continues it implies how this mother past has been forgotten, “And the albums, lettered Our Wedding, lying Near the television. ” This shows how the women’s lives are drained of romance. A woman’s wedding day is the happiest day of her life which would be a significant and special memory. However, the narrator describes the pictures from this day are sitting next to the television which shows how they are just seem like a piece of clutter.
The television is also a routine in which we all fall into. This suggests the television has more importance than the memory of the woman’s wedding or the fact her wedding was just an ordinary day. This expresses the theme of time as it shows as these women’s lives become more of a routine and the most important days in her past are forgotten and are not considered to be a valuable memory. While these mothers stand back and watch their lives pass by, their children are carefree and are enjoying life. “Their children, so intent on Finding more unripe acorns, Expect to be taken home.
” This shows how their lives have been flooded with the responsibilities of having a child. These women do not have the choice to care for their children, they must do it. ‘Unripe’ shows how these children still have time to make something of their lives which contrasts with their mothers. The children have the opportunity to live life and make choices before being bombarded with the responsibilities of being a mother and wife. The fact that these children are ‘intent’ on finding insignificant objects also shows how they have no worries in their lives.
They do not have to search for anything of importance which further emphasises the contrast between the children and mothers. Larkin suggests the way in which these mothers have dealt with motherhood have changed them physically and mentally. “Their beauty has thickened. ” This illustrates how these once beautiful women have been destroyed by life. They no longer have time to care for themselves so they have forgotten that they should be looked after as well as the children. It also could symbolise how they have became ‘thick-skinned.
’ These mothers have just learned to carry on with life as they know nothing will change the dull lives they possess. This theme of time and ageing is created by describing the demands of these children. These women’s lives have been ruled by the demands of their children. The last two lines in the poem show the loss of control these women have regarding their lives. “Something is pushing them To the side of their own lives. ” This implies these women have no control and the only thing controlling them is the demands of their family.
Their feelings are no longer valued, they cannot make a choice for themselves, and it has to benefit their family. This also suggests the narrator does not believe it is these mothers fault for the emptiness in their lives. They are not seen as worthy people, they are there to serve the needs of their children and husbands. This shows just how these women’s lives have been affected by time. Their lives have diminished in front of their eyes, and now they will have to watch their children do the same.