A Loving Struggle In Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz".

993 words - 4 pages

A Loving Struggle in Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz"After an initial reading of Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz, one may assume that this is a story of a terrified young boy unable to defend himself against his father's physical abuse, while another reader may view this scene as a depiction of a playful game between father and son. While the poem may be understood by accepting either of these explanations in their simplest form, Roethke most likely intended to tell a more complicated tale. "My Papa's Waltz" signifies a working class man's struggle to communicate with his child.The opening lines, "The whiskey on your breath/ Could make a small boy dizzy" (1-2), illustrate Roethke's attempt to convey the differences between father and son. While it is unclear as to whether or not his father is drunk, the alcohol on his breath is enough for the young boy to take notice. The father may very well have had only had one drink and is therefore sober, but that one drink for the boy would surely lead to intoxication. These first two lines demonstrate the differences between a grown man and a child. The father may not notice how what seems to be a small amount of alcohol to him would have an enormous effect on the child. The poem begins in this manner to introduce the reader to the idea that accepted behavior for the father is not yet completely understood in the child's mind.The boy's father probably considers this interaction with his son a loving game. He sees the boy as a one-dimensional child who has a great time participating in such emotional bonding. This is most likely one of the reasons Roethke changed the character from a girl to a boy. By this simple change in character, Roethke is able to "keep the dual tone of this dance: a little rough and scary and a little dear and loving" (McKenna 35). By altering the child's gender, Roethke is able to retain the balance of the father/son relationship without overemphasizing the apparent brutality of the scene since society generally views this type of activity as more acceptable for males. The poem is not as much about a conflict between father and son, but more of a misunderstanding or miscommunication between adult and child.The main conflict in the poem is the father's inability to understand that the boy is still a child; a child able to be frightened by authority yet unable to fully differentiate angry hostility and playful aggressiveness. A part of the boy realizes that his father has no intention of actually hurting him, but the game is still a bit too rough for him to handle. Such words as "death", "battered", "scraped", and "beat" all indicate more than just a friendly game, but at the same time the boy summarizes these events as a "waltz." By using such a delicate word to reflect these events, Roethke is letting the reader know that although the interaction with his father may be somewhat harsh, the boy still...

Find Another Essay On A Loving Struggle in Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz".

Reflective Response - "My Papa's Waltz" - Theodore Roethke. A response paper describing the situation in the poem.

827 words - 3 pages Roethke, Theodore. My Papa's Waltz. Retellings: A Thematic Literature Anthology. Eds. Clarke, M.B. and A.G. Clarke. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2004. 67-68Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz" initially bestows upon the reader a scene of a father and child passing by the evening's late hours in dance, and then finally rest. Further investigation of the poem's lines provides quite a few alternate meanings that completely differ from the initial portrait that is

Analysis of My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Rothke

521 words - 2 pages Analysis of My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Rothke My Papa's Waltz is by Theodore Rothke it is about a childhood memory written later in his lifetime. Theodore Rothke's dad was an alcoholic drunk. Theodore Rothke went through a period where he was depressed and mentally unstable. Theodore Rothke was fascinated by the nature of the world; many of his poems were about this subject. Some people who read My Papa&'s Waltz come to the conclusion that

The Actual Meaning of My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Roethke

838 words - 3 pages The Actual Meaning of "My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke Poetry is made to express the feelings, thoughts, and emotions of the poet. The reader can interpret the poem however they see fit. Critics are undecided about the theme of Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz." Some people believe that the poem is one of a happy exchange between a father and son. The more convincing interpretation is that it has a hidden message of parental abuse

Considering and Analyzing the Denotative and Connotative Meanings in "My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke

804 words - 3 pages The definition of the word "waltz" in the Webster's Dictionary denotes it to being a "a ballroom dance, in moderately fast triple meter, in which the dancers revolve in perpetual circles, taking one step to each beat." With this denotation or dictionary meaning of the word, the reader instinctively assumes that Theodore Roethke's poem solely focuses on a father's dance with his son. However, as we have seen, connotations provide the reader with

Contrasting parenting styles in poems "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden and "My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke.

838 words - 3 pages Parenting is intended to guide children toward an independent adulthood. Morals and lessons are developed through discipline, imitation, and learned respect for oneself and society. Some parents show love and affection whereas others shape their children with respect and stern discipline. In the poems "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden and "My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke, a relationship between a father and son are portrayed as both

My Papa's Waltz

1330 words - 5 pages In the late nineteen forties, Theodore Roethke emerged with a poem that has been the source of much debate. "My Papa's Waltz," is an account of a relationship between son and father. Alas, many readers who are exposed to this piece fail to note the love present in the connection of the characters. In an attempt to illuminate the author's true intention several factors must be examined. After several examinations of Roethke's poem as well as

My papa's Waltz

1183 words - 5 pages Two Poems, Two Fathers, Two Sons Both Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz" and Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays" are about a man's memories of his boyhood relationship with his father. Both are about communication, but beyond that, these two relationship could not be more different. Roethke had a strong and positive relationship with his father that couldn't be expressed. Hayden's relationship with his father was also wordless. It is

My Papa's Waltz

776 words - 3 pages When the topic of a conversation is abuse, often people become uncomfortable. They cringe when the "a" word is mentioned; they often try to change the subject. Especially if they have been a victim of abuse. In Theodore Roethke, "My Papaw's waltz," the narrator makes an abusive and harmful situation seem merely amusing and humorous. The narrator explains a dance in his poem but the hidden fact is that the dance is an abusive life as long

Analysis of My Papa's Waltz

810 words - 3 pages Analysis of "My Papa's Waltz" This poem has a kept form. Even at a glance, it has a set form. It consists of four quatrains, each line being an iambic tritameter. The poem is about a young boy waltzing with his father. One can assume that the speaker is a young boy, or perhaps the poet reminiscing his youth. The father dances around in a haphazard manner, knocking over pans in the kitchen. Upon first glance, the tone is humorous. The

Analysis of My Papa's Waltz

694 words - 3 pages In the poem "My Papa's Waltz" written by Theodore Roethke, the interpretation of the poem depends on the readers`perspective. Some people think that this poem is one of a happy exchange between a father and son. Other people believe that this poem has a hidden message of parental abuse. In my point of view, the imagery and language, the symbolism, and tone in the poem gave me the impression of the love between the father and son, not of an

Meter and rhythm described in my papa's waltz.

1012 words - 4 pages My Papa's Waltz" In Theodor Roethke's "My Papa's waltz" thereader finds a horrid experiance, the beating of a child by his father,which is told in a way of a romantic and beutifull dance - the waltz. Thefeeling one get from reading this poem is that the narrator, at least atthe time in which the poem is written, does not look at this experience assomething bad. He tries to beutify the experience by making it a waltz. Healso, by means of images

Similar Essays

Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz" : Abuse Or Play?

688 words - 3 pages look at "waltz", as a metaphor for a fight or simply a description of a playful, dance-like action, Theodore Roethke's poem "My Papa's Waltz" can be interpreted in multiple ways. The imagery of an abusive father can be supported as well as the idea of father and son romping playfully through the house.

Comparing And Contrasting Theodore Roethke's My Papa's Waltz And Robert Hayden's Those Winter Sundays

1447 words - 6 pages J. "Roethke's Revisions and the Tone of `My Papa's Waltz.'." Anq 11.2 (1998): 34. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. Moore, Harry. “Offices of Love”: A New Look At the Ending of Hayden's THOSE WINTER SUNDAYS." Explicator 69.2 (2011): 56-59. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. H.R. Swardson, “The Use of the Word Mistaken in the Teaching of Poetry.” ADE Bulletin 91 (Winter 1988): 4-5 Kennedy, X.J.; Gioia, Dana. “My Papa’s Waltz.” Backpack Literature. Fourth Edition. Terry, Joe. 2012. Longman, 2012. 393-394. Print. Gioia, Dana; Kennedy, X.J. “Those Winter Sundays.” Backpack Literature. Fourth Edition. Terry, Joe. 2012. Longman, 2012. 382. Print.

"My Papa's Waltz" By Theodore Roethke.

944 words - 4 pages poem, "My Papa's Waltz", written by Theodore Roethke, is written in such a way that creates many debate and contestation over the intended message and tone. Many interpret see, the poem as joyous and loving; others, including myself, view it with disgust and pity. The boy in this poem expresses his feelings toward his relationship between his father and himself. He possesses an attitude, which gives an example of the poet's ironic tone. The

"My Papa's Waltz" By Theodore Roethke

724 words - 3 pages In the poem "My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke, the speaker is reflecting on a childhood experience involving his father. Through diction and details, the speaker conveys his complex attitudes toward his father. When first read it, it appears the young boy is afraid of his father. The first line of the poem writes: "The whiskey on your breath; could make a small boy dizzy." Apparently, the father likes whisky and the smell of it is remaining