Reasons for Attendance Characters
by Philip Larkin

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Reasons for Attendance Characters

The Speaker

Drawn to a window where young dancers enjoy some sensuous time together, the speaker begins to question his own passions. The trumpet summons him in a "loud and authoritative" voice, signifying that this is an important calling and consideration for him. As he watches them, he is forced to consider what truly brings happiness. Is it ultimately all about sex and connection?

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As he considers this, his point of view shifts to being inside the dance. He can smell the smoke and sweat. He can feel the girls pressing against him. Perhaps this steady "beat of happiness" found in a sensuous night of dancing, with its undertones of expected sexual encounters, is the path to happiness.

The speaker then confronts a common belief that most of these couples are on the path to happiness. The enjambment between the third and fourth stanzas leaves the reader in anticipation of his analysis of this belief. He thinks that it is "sheer // inaccuracy," from his evaluations. The beat toward sex found in such settings does not call to him as it does to these young dancers. Instead, the speaker follows his own passions, found in beauty, art, and individuality. He reserves any sort of lasting judgment on this scene. After all, the dancers believe they have found their own happiness. So the speaker decides to simply remain outside their world and let them enjoy the happiness they have found. Likewise, he indicates that he will take pleasure in the things which bring him joy, like art. He believes that happiness can be found in many places, and individuals should be left to explore what brings them personal joy.

He underpins this all with a final...

(The entire section is 422 words.)