Within The Whitsun Weddings, Philip Larkin presents the reader with an tough-minded word picture of life in post-World War II Britain. Larkin was a pre-eminent literary figure within the Movement, and The Whitsun Weddings is a aggregation that is characteristically misanthropic towards the “ Consumer Culture ” of Harold Macmillan ‘s Britain. The aggregation explores in deepness subjects such as the transience of human life, the insignificance of societal outlook, and the pettiness of consumerism.
In ‘Dockery and Son ‘ , the reader is presented with a middle-aged supporter who, whilst revisiting his alma mater, efforts to open ‘the door of where I used to populate: / Locked. ‘ The locked door signifies an unachievable yesteryear and the disjunction he feels with his former life as a pupil. Larkin ‘s usage of enjambment serves to stress the disjunction that the supporter feels with his yesteryear. The fugitive nature of human life is contrasted by the eternity of the universe in which the supporter lives. Despite the acquaintance of this universe to the supporter, he feels relatively anon. , as is demonstrated when ‘A known bell bells. I catch my train, ignored. ‘ Individual lives are nil but ‘ranged / Joining and separating lines ‘ which ‘reflect a strong / Unhindered Moon. ‘ The railroad paths are symbolic of the fact that human lives may interweave and diverge, yet will finally end. The Moon above us all is ageless, yet we are non. Again, Larkin ‘s usage of enjambment serves to stress this. This is a reminder of the insignificance of adult male in relation to the natural universe, and this belief in the transience of human being is a cardinal subject within The Whitsun Weddings.
However, this feeling of disaffection is non limited to the scene of the natural universe. On geting in Sheffield ( an industrial metropolis and Centre for fabrication in the UK ) , the supporter is greeted by beastly ‘fumes/ And furnace-glares ‘ , and he ‘ate an atrocious pie ‘ . The ‘awful pie ‘ is a representative item, metonymic of non merely the railroad station, but of the inexpensive and belittling position that Larkin holds towards mass-produced consumer-driven urban life in the early 1960 ‘s. The supporter feels no more affiliated to urban life than he does to rural life, and the narrative voice merely develops a fluxing beat when he is flying from topographic point to put on the train, possibly in the hope of happening someplace in which he can experience a sense of belonging. This is demonstrated through the alliterative phrase ‘Canal and clouds and colleges subside / Slowly from position. ‘
In the eyes of the supporter the lone certainty in life is decease ; ‘Life is first ennui, so fear / Whether or non we use it, it goes ‘ . Consequently, the mode in which 1 chooses to populate 1 ‘s life is viewed as both unimportant and unmanageable. For the supporter, ‘To have no boy, no married woman, / No house or land still seemed rather natural. ‘ Dockery was blinded by the misconception that our lives are shaped by our beliefs and desires, when in fact his fate was far more predicated by the ‘innate premises ‘ that society imposes upon us. Dockery was ‘Only 19 ‘ when he became a male parent. Larkin implies that Dockery ‘s pick to go a parent was driven ‘Not from what / We think truest, or most want to make ‘ , but out of fright of non being ‘capable ‘ of carry throughing this societal duty in ulterior life. This methodical attitude towards parentage is absurd in the eyes of the storyteller ; if life is so fugitive, what is the point in carry throughing societal outlooks? In the terminal, all that is left is ‘For Dockery a boy, for me nil, / Nothing with all a boy ‘s rough backing ‘ . Parenthood is non viewed as fulfilling, but as constricting. Larkin farther satirises the ‘innate premise ‘ that ‘adding meant addition ‘ by utilizing bureaucratic nomenclature to depict this methodical attitude towards parentage. The rubric of the verse form, ‘Dockery and Son ‘ has resonances of a concern ‘ name, and we are told that Dockery must hold decided to go a male parent after holding ‘taken stock / Of what he wanted ‘ . Larkin ‘s bureaucratic nomenclature draws a nexus between the rise in British consumerism and the unsighted chase of the ‘innate premises ‘ that society expects of us. Like any signifier of mass-produced trade good, people do non hold kids because they want them, but because they think that they ought to hold them.
‘Dockery and Son ‘ adopts a reasonably simple poetic construction. It is comprised of six stanzas which are each made up of eight lines of poesy. The verse form has a comparatively simple rhyme strategy ; each stanza contains four brace of poetic lines that rhyme, although the order in which the rime strategy unfolds varies between stanzas. This dependance upon simple poetic rhyming constructions is prevailing within The Whitsun Weddings, and is typical of Larkin, who scorned the daring experimentation of modernist authors of his clip. He favoured more established poetic signifiers, which he saw as an built-in portion of the English literary tradition.[ 1 ]This marks a divergence from the stylish conventions of Larkin ‘s clip, a subject which is ongoing throughout the aggregation.
Furthermore, the usage of personal pronouns is deserving analyzing within ‘Dockery and Son ‘ . Up until line 36, the narrative voice merely uses remarkable personal pronouns: ‘I ‘ to mention to the supporter, and ‘he ‘ to mention to Dockery. When it sounds like the supporter is about to do a pluralised statement in line 19, and possibly uncover a disclosure about the province of the human status, he drifts off into sleep, and the train-of-thought is abandoned. However, one time he realises that the established societal outlooks of those his age are nil but fiddling ‘innate premises ‘ , this cosmopolitan voice is eventually implemented. From line 37 onwards, the narrative voice speaks in a more inclusive manner, using the first-person plural personal pronoun ‘we ‘ . This implies that the supporter ‘s disclosure sing the pettiness and transience of human life applies non merely to him, but to the reader and society as a whole. For a aggregation of poesy that trades with such universally relevant subjects, and for such a bold statement about the intent of being ( or deficiency of it ) , this displacement in topic is non merely fitting, but wholly necessary.