My Papa's Waltz Analysis

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The poem, “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke has spurred passionate academic debate from professors, scholars, and students. On one hand, some individuals interpret this poem as a fond relationship between a father and a son. On the other hand, some imagine a hidden message of parental abuse. The imagery, syntax, and diction of the poem clearly support the interpretation that Roethke writes, “My Papa’s Waltz,” to reflect upon his own childhood experience and to reminisce upon a fond relationship with his father. Admittedly, Roethke uses imagery to convey the devoted relationship of him and his father. For instance, in the first paragraph the author illustrates, “. . .whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy. . . hung on like death; such waltzing was not easy.” Despite the fact that Roethke’s father is intoxicated, he still hangs on to him. These phrases help highlight the idea that Roethke has a doting relationship with his father and his unwillingness to leave him. Further in the poem, “We romped until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf,” reveals their playful relationship. One can see from this, the crashing of the pots and the sounds of laughter. On another note, the mother has a facial expression that “could not unfrown itself.” This phrase helps reveal that the mother isn’t involved in their play. She does not favor the fact that her pots are jumbling all over her kitchen. As well as in the last stanza, Roethke illustrates that his father’s hand is

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