My Papa's Waltlz

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My Father’s Waltz By Theodore Roethke (1942) Michelle Parker ENG 125 December 1, 2012 Things I found engaging in “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke (1942) were the language the content, and the theme. The language was compelling because it was really the thoughts of a young boy trying the help his drunken father get to bed. The content was engaging because it just showed the struggle he was dealing with. The ambiguous nature of family relationships is the theme. An example of the language in the poem that helps you “see” what the boy is thinking and feeling is: “The whiskey on your breath Could make a small boy dizzy But I hung on like death” (1942) And, “The hand that held my wrist Was battered on one knuckle At every step you missed My right ear scraped a buckle. You beat time on my head With a palm caked hard by dirt.” (1942) The son was able to deal “justify” his father’s drunkenness by noticing all of the things that showed his father was a hard-working man, as described above. The content was engaging to me because I come from an alcoholic family on my mother’s family. For example: “We romped until the pans Slid from the kitchen shelf My mother's countenance Could not unfrown itself.” My grandmother felt much the same way as this boy’s mother did when my grandfather was drunk (which was a lot of the time). According to the textbook, “the central details in "My Papa's Waltz" relate to the father—his breath, his irregular dancing, his battered knuckles and rough hands—there are important descriptions of the boy's responses, and the mother's too.” (Journey) Those details make the theme of the poem. The central theme to this poem is the ambiguous nature of this families’ relationship. For example: “The whiskey on your breath Could make a small boy dizzy.” (1942) And, “The hand that held my wrist Was

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