Characters

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Last Reviewed on July 9, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 482

The main character in Larkin's "High Windows" is the speaker. Aside from the speaker, there are some minor characters, namely "a couple of kids" and a priest.

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The Speaker

The speaker seems nostalgic for his youth and looks enviously upon those who are young while he is old. He characterizes youth as the time when "Bonds and gestures [are] pushed to one side" and when everyone goes "down the long slide / To happiness, endlessly." The speaker then suggests, however, that his own childhood was not quite as free and joyful as this. Describing himself "forty years back," he describes a boy who was, unlike the previous generation, free from the burden of "sweating in the dark / About hell and that." In other words, he was granted more religious freedom in his youth than those who had come before, who perhaps were jealous of him just as he is now jealous of the sexual freedoms enjoyed by the younger generation.

At the end of the poem, the speaker describes "high windows" beyond which there is only "deep blue air, that shows / Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless." It is debatable as to whether this is a description of youth in general or whether it is a description of life from his present middle-aged perspective. If we interpret it as a description of youth, we might infer that he looks enviously upon the transcendental freedom of youth. This would imply, in turn, that he doesn't feel like he has this freedom in his middle age. We might also interpret the description of the "endless" blue sky beyond the "high windows" as a description of life once youth has passed. In this case, an interpretation in keeping with the rest of the poem might be that the speaker thinks of his middle-aged life as interminably meaningless now that he...

(The entire section contains 482 words.)

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