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Analysis Of The Poem My Papa´S Waltz By Theodore Roethke

744 words - 3 pages

Drinking has and always will influence people, for the better or the worse. Alcohol clearly influenced Theodore Roethke's poem "My Papa's Waltz." In his poem, there are two main characters along with a largely anonymous third party. Theodore, an adolescent, dances with his drunken father while his birth mother watches apprehensively. The characters represent a past memory of Roethke's childhood.
In his recollection, Roethke's father comes home drunk after a hard day of work. The young boy and his father decide to partake in a little dance. While waltzing, the two get a little rambunctious with each other. As a result, some people view this poem with a disdainful-like perception and suppose Theodore wrote the poem with dark thoughts in mind. Rather, despite his father's drunkenness, the young Theodore enjoyed every second of it. There is a strong bond between them that upon careful examination, one can clearly understand in the poem "My Papa's Waltz."
In the poem, the act of 'waltzing' symbolizes love, though not without some strife. "Such waltzing was not easy" (Roethke pg 602, 4). Because of this friction, those that contend the poem is merely depicting a drunken brawl, use this prose as evidence, "The whiskey on your breath, could make a small boy dizzy" (Roethke pg 602, 1-2). However, Theodore is quick to contradict such thoughts, "But I hung on like death" (Roethke pg 602, 3). For all elude death for
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a while, yet it nevertheless comes to all. Theodore equates his love of his father as the grip of death.
Another symbol used to represent the unspoken bond in the father and son relationship is power. Power is not always a word that comes up when referring to love. However, power resembles respect and respect for your elders is a sign of love. The lines "at every step you missed, my right ear scraped a buckle" screams power (Roethke pg 602, 11-12). Although the young narrator does nothing wrong he nevertheless receives a scrape on the ear. Much like a tyrant dictating a nation, if he is greedy and takes all the money, the people...

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