Analysis of "My Papa's Waltz"

920 WordsMar 9, 20144 Pages
A Rare Treat Most children love and worship their parents. This seems to be a common trait regardless of the type of parent a child has. While it makes sense that children with loving, caring parents would idolize them, there are children who are severely abused by their parents who still contend that they love them and want to be with them despite their abusive actions. In the poem “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, the speaker appears to enjoy a dance with his father before going to bed; however, when the reader looks deeper into the poem, it becomes evident that the relationship is more strained and contentious than first thought. The use of alcohol in the first line of the poem gives a hint of danger. While the speaker does not say his father is drunk, he does say that he has enough liquor on his breath to “make a small boy dizzy” (line 2). This description suggests that it is a strong odor implying the man has had much to drink. The word “death” is used by the speaker early on in the poem to describe how he is desperately clinging to his father creating a negative tone in what would otherwise be described as a cheerful occasion. This foreshadowing leads the reader to believe there is more under the surface than what is seen quickly. The speaker’s life with his father is not a pleasant one. This becomes clearer when the speaker admits that the dance “was not easy” (line 5). Despite this, he wants to be with his father and treasures this rare time with him. The mother’s attitude during this dance also sheds light on the family situation. In a carefree, fun-filled household, the family would be expected to be laughing and joyful at such an event such as this waltz. The mother, however, scowls at the commotion of the pots and pans being jarred (lines 5-9). This lack of enthusiasm from the wife and mother indicates that there may be tension and

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