Philip Larkin

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Faith Healing

Q1) How does Philip Larkin describe the faith healer?

We are introduced to the faith healer as ‘woman file to where he stands’. He is at the centre of the situation that Philip Larkin is describing. A position in the centre is always one associated with power or in this case even charisma as the women ‘file’ to where he is stood. Philip Larkin then goes onto describe the faith healer’s physical description which is oxymoronic as the descriptions fluctuate from a kindly wise old man to a hardened business man with a brusque attitude. He is wearing a ‘dark suit’ which is a strange attire for a supposed man of God to be wearing. The connotations of religious dress are simple and humble whereas a dark suit would be more fitted for an upscale event. The ‘dark suit’ is reminiscent of an outfit a successful businessmen would wear rather than a religious leader. However he also has a ‘white collar’ which is a complete opposite to the image of a businessman. We would associate a white collar with a priest or a religious leader. He is also described as having ‘silver hair’ which signifies his age but also that his a wise figure. That these woman flock to him because of his wisdom and caring nature. In the next line Larkin describes his character as ‘within whose warm spring rain of loving care’. The description is exaggerated in nature and is immediately recognizable as sarcastic as in the following line the faith healer’s brusque and uncaring nature is shown as ‘each dwells some twenty seconds’. Instead of being a religious occasion where each person is treated as exactly that, a person with individual needs they’re all allocated the same time.

Q2) Larkin describes the women with a mixed amount of sympathy and anger towards both their situations and the way they handled it. His scathing attitude towards the faith healer is apparent, however his attitude towards the desperate women is more complex. He describes the as ‘filing’ towards...
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