Comparing the Dance of Life in My Papa’s Waltz and Saturday Night Fever

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Parallels of The Dance of Life in My Papa’s Waltz and Saturday Night Fever

Throughout the ages, dance has played an important role in society. It symbolizes tradition, family, bonding, and entertainment. In almost every decade of the twentieth century, a different style of dance prevailed. In the 1970s, John Travolta brought disco dancing into the spotlight with his portrayal of Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever. Through his depiction of this character, John Travolta shows the monumental effects of dancing. Literature can also artfully explore the effect of dance on people. Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz" dramatizes a special and positive moment in a boy's life. The author's word choice reflects the significance of this
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As they waltz, the boy "hangs on like death" (536). This imagery and the strong simile may cause readers to subconsciously decide that the child is in an unhealthy situation. However, the first line of the next stanza explains that the father and son "romped until the pans slid from the shelf" (536). Hans Guth and Gabriele Rico agree with the interpretation that I had, in saying that "Romp is usually an approving word" (Guth and Rico 536). This word expresses a feeling of happy energy, which reflects how positive the occurrence was for the child.

Dancing, with its often happy energy, can be magical. This magic can alter a relationship between two people, even if only for the duration of the dance. In Saturday Night Fever, Tony Manero and his dancing partner, Stephanie Migano had a platonic relationship. This relationship changed into something else on the dance floor. They bonded; they had a mesmerizing connection to each other. This is parallel to the situation in "My Papa's Waltz." Readers do not know about the relationship between this father and son, but he recalls this moment for a reason. That waltz helped them bond. The last stanza supports the positiveness of this dance as the boy explains that his father "then waltzed me off to bed still clinging to your shirt" (Roethke 536). The fact that the child clings to his father suggests that he