Study Guide

Toads Stanza 7

By Philip Larkin

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Stanza 7

Lines 25-28

For something sufficiently toad-like
      Squats in me, too;
Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck,
      And cold as snow,

  • Now we find out why the speaker hasn't joined the merry ranks of the jobless. It turns out that the reasons for his conformity go beyond external, societal expectations.
  • Work is a kind of societal obligation or duty. It's what is expected of us. If you don't believe us, here's an easy test: tell your parents you've decided that college and a career just aren't for you. In fact, you've decided to play bongos in the town square, work on your tan, and just enjoy life.
  • Chances are, their reaction (it won't be good) will give you a pretty good sense of how seriously folks take this work thing. 
  • Not only does the speaker have the physical "toad work" to deal with six days a week, he likely feels all the external pressure of societal obligation as well.
  • If that wasn't enough, there's also something "toad-like" that exists in him as well: "Squats in me, too." This internal toad-i-ness is also preventing him from living a complete, fulfilling, free life.
  • The internal, toad-like thing the speaker has acknowledged is something in his personality, a certain sense of obligation or duty, which keeps him from turning his back on work. 
  • This internal toad is formidable. This is a seriously thick toad. Its hips, butt, and upper thighs ("hunkers") are "heavy as hard luck, / And cold as snow."
  • These back-to-back similes paint a pretty intimidating picture of whatever it is that lurks inside our speaker's psyche, preventing him from living the kind of life he wants to lead.
  • In Shmoop's book, anything that can be compared to bad luck and bone-chilling snow has got to be pretty bad news.
  • Line 27 even sounds formidable. There are all those repeated H sounds (for more on this alliteration, check out the "Sound Check" section). The line, like that toad, is hard to miss and hard to forget.

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