Analysis Of The Poem ' My Papa 's Waltz '

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Thesis: The poem “My Papa’s Waltz” is a work that has an array of meanings, singular to each reader’s viewpoint.

I. Interpretations of “My Papa’s Waltz”
a. Drunken father playing with his son
b. Drunken father abusing his son
II. Family Dynamics
a. Father’s role in the poem
b. Mother’s role in the poem
c. Son’s role in the poem
III. Roethke’s Revisions
a. Negative Aspects of the poem
b. Positive Aspects of the poem

Roethke, Theodore, “My Papa’s Waltz”. The Norton Introduction to Literature. Kelly J. Mays. Shorter Eleventh Edition. New York, NY, W.W. Norton and Company. 2013. Pages 791-792
McKenna, John J. “Roethke’s Revisions And The Tone Of ‘My Papa’s Waltz.’” Anq 11.2 (1998); 34-38. Literacy Reference Center. Web 11 Aug. 2014,

My Papa’s Waltz

“My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke’s recounts a small boy’s memory of his drunken father. It is a poem that has an array of meanings, singular to each reader’s viewpoint.
After reading this poem, I found myself able to interpret it two very different ways. Was this a poem of a playful father and son? Was this a poem of a drunken father beating his child? With adding the paper of Roethke’s revisions by McKenna, I realized this was the purpose of the poem. A person tends to interpret readings according to their own experiences. In John J. McKenna’s paper, we are able to see the difference between the original manuscript and the completed manuscript. It shows Roethke’s ability to change words to fit the
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