Study Guide

Aubade Fear

By Philip Larkin

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Death is scary. So it makes sense that fear comes up quite a bit in Larkin's "Aubade." What's worse, this isn't the kind of fear that goes away when you turn on the lights and see that what you thought was a monster was just your robe on the back of your desk chair. Nope. This kind of fear just sits there, impossible to ignore, making everything miserable. (Note: Just for the record, Shmoop wouldn't be afraid of a silly little robe—we just, uh, heard about that happening from this guy we know.)

Questions About Fear

  1. The speaker tells us that he is afraid of death and it certainly sounds like he is. Based on the information in the poem, is the speaker afraid of anything else? If so, what else is he afraid of and why does it scare him?
  2. How does the speaker deal with his fear of death? Does he handle his fear well? What advice would you give this guy to help him cope a little better?
  3. Why do you think this speaker's fear of death got so out of control? Was he always like this? Are childhood fears different from the fears of adults? If so, how? What were you most afraid of when you were a kid? What are you scared of now? Do any of your childhood fears still exist? If so, why do you think some fears go away as we get older and others don't? Is this the longest question you've had to answer? Do you fear that you'll die before you can answer it completely?

Chew on This

Saddest Chew ever: the speaker's inability to cope with his fear of death makes it impossible for him to enjoy his life.

It isn't death that the speaker is afraid of, it's the unpredictability of life that he fears. (We bet you didn't see that one coming.)

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