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Misinterpretations Of A Waltz In My Papa’s Waltz

671 words - 3 pages

"Misinterpretations of a Waltz" in My Papa’s Waltz  

"We romped until the pans / Slid from the kitchen shelf" (5-6). In numerous poems different readers vista a variety of ways to interpret what poems actually mean. This is very much true in Theodore Roethke's poem "My Papa's Waltz." The quote mentioned has caused many misconceptions about what the poem; "My Papa's Waltz" actually refers to. The two superior interpretations of critics are that Roethke's poem describes abuse or a dance. The abuse seems much more apparent in "My Papa's Waltz" because of the language that Roethke uses. The dance is interpreted because the boy is innocent and knows nothing else therefore the abuse seems normal. The drunkenness of his Papa, the mother's ignorance, and the way the child describes his abuse are very clear interpretations of mistreatment in Theodore Roethke's poem "My Papa's Waltz."


In the opening of the poem the young boy lets the audience know how he remembers his Papa. He remembers him by "The whiskey on your breath / could make a small boy dizzy" (1-2). The first declaration allows the realization of the audience to know that the father is in a volatile condition because of his drunkenness. The small boy's Papa is so intoxicated that his breath makes him dizzy. The dizziness is perceived by critics as "the boy in the poem felt a sickening fear" (Interpretation 536). The sickening fear that the young boy feels requires him to hold "on like death" (3). Obviously holding on is not so easy and the author describes this as a waltz. The abuse is described as a waltz because the boy is enjoying time with his father. The young boy does not know any difference therefore does not know that the abuse is wrong.


The frightened mother, described by Roethke, is so alarmed that she cannot do anything about the mistreatment. Because the family members were in a "romp" the "mother's...

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