My Papa Knultz Analysis

Decent Essays

Battered Knuckles While the subject of “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke has spurred passionate academic debate from professors, scholars, and students alike, the imagery, syntax, and diction of the poem clearly supports the interpretation that Roethke writes “My Papa’s Waltz” to reflect back to his sentimental memories with his father. In brief, Roethke leaves the audience with an unclear understanding of what the meaning of the poem is. In discussions of “My Papa’s Waltz,” one controversial issue is the father casually plays with the son. On the other hand, some readers argue that the father is abusing his son straightforwardly. However, after contemplating the context of the poem and gathering information from the text, it has become undeniably clear that the poem is about the father abusing his son. Ultimately, Roethke writes “My Papa’s Waltz” to illustrate a picture of his nostalgic remembrance for the readers. The authors controversial poem becomes clear when one carefully examines the context of the poem. In stanza one, line one, Roethke describes the “papa” in the poem as having “whiskey” “on [his] breath.” This line illuminates the idea of the father being intoxicated; hence, can lead to a change in behavior. Further, the change in behavior can be the cause of violence towards the child in the poem. Coincidentally, Roethke’s father dies in 1923 at the age of 52; thirty-eight years later Roethke writes “My Papa’s Waltz,” roughly at 52 years of age. The

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