A Defining Moment in My Papa’s Waltz Essay

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A Defining Moment in My Papa’s Waltz

An older boy remembered his father, a hardworking blue collar man. He remembered how his father would walk into the home each evening with scraped hands and perspiration stained shirts. His father was a tough man. He was the kind of man that refused to go to the doctor and rarely hugged his children. Yet, he was a good man. The boy remembered how his father provided for the family and often times his smallest actions proved his paternal love for them. One particular memory stood out among the rest. His father had returned home from work late one evening. He had been out celebrating his pay raise with some of his co-workers down at the local pub. He waltzed through the door bursting with
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As Papa playfully swings the boy around, the boy thinks "but I hung on like death / such waltzing was not easy." (3-4) The reader feels the rush of adrenaline the boy experiences. He relates the waltzing to the uneasiness that comes with riding a roller coaster or racing in a car. Such activities that can make one's heart beat faster, but cause no real danger. Additionally, Roethke notes "we romped until the pans / slid from the kitchen shelf,"(5-6) allowing the reader to visualize the efforts of Papa and his son as they swing, dance, and play together. The dishware and pans sliding to the floor as Papa clumsily laughs and dances, offers some comic relief to the reader. Furthermore, the bonding experience is displayed as enjoyable to the son when he remembers that his father then "waltzed [him] off to bed / still clinging to [the father's] shirt." (15-16) The reader realizes the son still wants to play and be close with his father even when bedtime has arrived. The images within the poem add to the memorable moment.

The diction within the poem also captures the bonding experience. Roethke's word selection uniquely relates the event to a dance making the poem pleasantly fun. The overall effect of words such as "dizzy," (2) "waltzing,"(4) and "beat"(13) turn the lines of poetry into a merry shuffle between the father and son. Words such as "step"(11) and "waltzed"(15) fully invoke

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