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Saturday, 20 February 2016

The Panic of Growing Older by Lenrie Peters

Literary Analysis (summary)

As one grows older, there are accumulations of changes in one’s appearance and lifestyle. With age, the body loses strength and flexibility. Bones shrink in size and physical limitations set in. ageing comes with psychological and physical effects which cause panic. The anxiety of ageing makes it hard to accept these physical changes. One begins to look at life from a different perspective. Life is measured as the clock ticks towards the twilight. One reminisces on the journey towards mortality with fears or satisfaction.

“The panic of growing older spreads” certain feelings of anxiety. “From year to year”, one evaluates each phase in terms of achievements, failures and the room for improvement. At the age of twenty, life blossoms with high hopes and dreams. It gives enough room for “time and exploration” of one’s career. At twenty, the body is agile with renewed vigour. It is that time of the youth that one explores all possibilities and engages in all sorts of activities, moving here and there without feeling exhausted. The energetic drive of this productive stage of someone’s life, if it is well planned, brings “gigantic success”.

At thirty, the agility starts declining as one feels regular pain in the body with any arduous task. Yet, laboratory test cannot really certify the real cause. It is part of the ageing process. The body systems can no longer fight stress and everyday physical activities become onerous. The legs develop cramps and can no longer carry out even domestic chores. Unlike in the twenties, the legs cannot engage in “sudden leaps at the moon”. One’s dexterity and career “leaps” dwindle with age. At thirty, the body starts showing wrinkles. In fact, at this stage of life, one is expected to be married and occupied with hurdles of parenthood and family life. At thirty-five, female fertility declines and the body starts experiencing abrupt changes.

Towards the tail end of an individual’s life, one meditates on how far one has gone in achieving his or her dreams. The persona’s record book (copybook) is divided into two equal parts, with one part showing the successes and the other part smeared with “red ink and failures”. The persona seems to ponder more on the failures that have been accrued over the years. With “nothing to show the world”, the panic intensifies.

For donkey’s years, he can only account for three children and that is not unusual because the society demands it. One does not need a “specialist’s effort” to procreate. Moreover, the poet’s life seems to be unfulfilled and this makes growing older more dreadful.   

With the introduction of science, there is hope that one can prolong one’s existence and live “twice three score and ten”. Scientists have come up with anti-ageing medical procedures which give humanity hope of immortality. But hope, the poet says, “is not a grain of sand” that is ever present or reliable. In other words, the hope scientists give is mere conjectures

At this declining phase of one’s life, “inner satisfaction” wanes by the “sharp blades of expectation” one has set up at the beginning. The unrealistic expectations are unachieved and one faces failure on a grand scale. With such dissatisfaction with one’s life, the feeling of weariness sets in. Left with no choice, one resigns to fate and concedes defeat to the world.


Ageing is a natural phenomenon
Life is not a bed of roses
Life is a developmental process
The anxiety of ageing
The struggle with life
Man is immortal
Science and humanity

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  1. Thanks so much! But, why don't you add the poetic devices used?

  2. Interesting article. You broke everything down like the wall of Jericho. Kudos!

  3. A well articulated analysis,well done but I will appreciate a little discussion on the themes mentioned.

  4. A well articulated analysis,well done but I will appreciate a little discussion on the themes mentioned.

  5. Its very nice but please can you explain the themes

  6. It is very nice but can you please explain the themes