Essay on Analysis of My Papa's Waltz

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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 abusive relationship.

"My Papa's Waltz" is a poem presented in a form that uses specific images and language to present a happy memory that a man has of his father, even in a situation where his father was drunk. Words such as "romped" (line 5), "waltzing" (line 4), "clinging to your shirt," (line 16)
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In the third stanza, the narrator is remembering some details like the broken knuckle of his father (line 10), and that his ear was scraping on his father's belt buckle (line 12). As well in the fourth stanza, the narrator mentions the dirt caked on his father's hand (line 14). These images of the son imply a hard working father who had just come home from the plant and was spending time with his little son before putting him to bed. These images also support my point of view that the author still has pleasant memories of the event, which would not be the case if there was abuse,

As well, the waltz in the story becomes a symbol of an idealized and elusive relationship between father and son and leads to the title of the poem-"My Papa's Waltz." The last line of poem, "waltzed me off to bed still clinging to your shirt" (line 15-16) infers the boy is very dependent on his father and shows his father loves him very much. The constant rhythm throughout the poem gives it a light beat, like a waltz; the reader feels like he is dancing. The rhythm of poem make a reader feel the joy of a child, not the somber sense of abuse, This is like a child dancing since there is no complicated structure, Moreover, stresses on words such as dizzy, easy, buckle, and knuckle give the poem a rather playful feel to the reader. A child who suffered abuse would not be using happy symbolism to remember his
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