Critical Analysis of My Papa’s Waltz by Theodore Roethke

757 Words Jan 30th, 2018 3 Pages
As a student at Saginaw's Arthur Hill High School, Roethke demonstrated early promise in a speech on the Junior Red Cross that was published in twenty-six languages. However, the death of his father from cancer in 1923 was a loss that would powerfully shape Roethke's psychic and creative lives. Roethke attitude toward his father Otto was depicted in his widely anthologized work "My Papa's Waltz" written on 1948. Apparently, Roethke's filial anxieties stemmed from the trauma of his father’s death, which interrupted the adolescent's successful passage through oedipal rivalry (Garraty and Carnes). Roethke's drive to master his precursors, however, led him to forge significant literary innovations.
By reading the poem “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, the reader might see either a loving relationship or an abusive relation between father and son. This poem has an intriguing ambiguity that creates different interpretations. There are some words in the poem that depict violence, such as: whiskey, death, romped, battered, scraped, beat, and clinging. The poem ends with a primarily negative texture portraying a drunken father, angry mother, and desperate child who have a desperate hope for some fun in the face of a real fear of violence and disruption (Janssen 44). However, through deeper interpretation, the reader might see a positive side of the poem shows a close relationship…