Misinterpretations of a Waltz in My Papa’s Waltz Essay

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"Misinterpretations of a Waltz" in My Papa’s Waltz

"We romped until the pans / Slid from the kitchen shelf" (5-6). In numerous poems different readers vista a variety of ways to interpret what poems actually mean. This is very much true in Theodore Roethke's poem "My Papa's Waltz." The quote mentioned has caused many misconceptions about what the poem; "My Papa's Waltz" actually refers to. The two superior interpretations of critics are that Roethke's poem describes abuse or a dance. The abuse seems much more apparent in "My Papa's Waltz" because of the language that Roethke uses. The dance is interpreted because the boy is innocent and knows nothing else therefore the abuse seems normal. The drunkenness of his Papa, the mother's
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The small boy's Papa is so intoxicated that his breath makes him dizzy. The dizziness is perceived by critics as "the boy in the poem felt a sickening fear" (Interpretation 536). The sickening fear that the young boy feels requires him to hold "on like death" (3). Obviously holding on is not so easy and the author describes this as a waltz. The abuse is described as a waltz because the boy is enjoying time with his father. The young boy does not know any difference therefore does not know that the abuse is wrong.

The frightened mother, described by Roethke, is so alarmed that she cannot do anything about the mistreatment. Because the family members were in a "romp" the "mother's countenance / could not unfrown itself" (5, 7-8). The mother is so disgusted with the abuse that the father is forcing on their son that her countenance cannot be altered. Her frown cannot be changed therefore she will not eliminate the abuse that is being pushed on her son. "Romp" is a keyword in this poem, which gives the reader the knowledge that the boy thought that the abuse was normal. The word is usually meaning a "boisterous, energetic kind of running or dancing" (Interpretations 536). It is used the same way in this poem because Roethke wants the reader to understand that the boy was only seeing through eyes of innocence.

In the ending of the poem it becomes clearer that the boy is experiencing the dance of abuse. The dance is his innocence by

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