Red Roses My Papa's Waltz Essay

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With more than 6.3 million cases of child abuse per year, it goes to question why more than 3 million go unnoticed due to children refusing the allegations of abuse to maintain relationship with the parents who are abusing them. The poems, “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, and “Red Roses” by Anne Sexton utilize the metaphor of dancing to develop the reality of child abuse. Sexton’s poem recounts the story of a young boy, Tommy whose mother uses dance as a form of her abuse in order to expose the ways in which children handle their abuses. Roethke’s poem looks back on a memory of a drunken father dancing with his son to highlight the nature of the children wanting love more than abandonment. Both poems make use of the metaphor of dancing to reflect the weakness in victim’s ability to come forward with their abuses. Both poems use the extended metaphor of dancing to demonstrate the tendencies of every day abuse and the coping mechanisms for the children being abused. In “My Papa’s Waltz”, the boy states that “ Such waltzing was not easy”, which ironically contrasts with the happiness and fluidity of dancing, especially as a child, and especially with your parents. The audience can make assumptions that the boy is being abused when Roethke suggests in the lines “You beat time on my head” and “My right ear scraped a buckle”. Both reasonable thoughts when considering the proportions of child versus parent, also evoke thoughts of habitual abuse especially from intoxicated persons. The actions in this case are left to the interpretation of the reader, either the child is literally scraping his ear on the belt buckle of the father’s belt. Furthermore, the double meaning of the word “beat” connotes both the beat of the song, as well as abuse, highlight Roethke’s central idea that children do not always know when enough is enough. Such in the end of the poem when

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