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My Papa's Waltz Free Essay

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In writing, several techniques are used to develop a desired feeling within the reader. These techniques describe a feeling a particular way, using a concise description through the use of imagery; to communicate the authors desired effect on the reader. Theodore Rathkes "My Papa's Waltz , purposefully denies us that concise description, using simile imagery that allows a widely varied opinion of the characters playing out the events within the household, based on the readers feelings and experiences.

Duality in interpretation is established immediately with the description "The whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy.  This picture elicits a widely varied image of a man based on personal feelings and experiences. A reader who has experienced an alcoholic father develops an image of a drunken man towering over his child, while a reader without that experience draws an image of a man who, after a drink or two, is playing with his son. Elizabeth Bishop, in the opening lines of "The Fish  wrote: "I caught a tremendous fish and held him out of water, with my hook fast in a corner of his mouth.  (751) The image that develops within the reader is exact and measured, leaving no doubt what is being described. Comparing that with Roethke's opening lines, his similes have a designed lack of exactness, ensuring that the reader will not be steered into any predetermined picture, but instead, can draw from a multitude of different images based on their personal experiences.

The second stanza continues the same way as the first, using language designed to allow different interpretations. "We romped until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf , can be interpreted to mean that the father beat his son around, knocking things asunder in his drunken haze, or that the son and father played roughly, and in their fun, knocked the pans around. "My moth

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In the poem, My Papa’s Waltz, Theodore reminisces about his youth of tangled emotions of fear and unconditional love. towards his father besides the imperfections his father has. This poet has showed the emotions of fear and love through word choice, imagery and metaphors.

Theodore’s word choice highlights the mixed emotions he feels towards his father. Through the combination of the words “death” (l. 3) and “waltzing” (l. 4) in the first quatrain, poet describes a serious but amusing atmosphere around him and his father. The image of a waltz depicts the requirement of two individuals to shows the togetherness of the pair. Although, the poet is close to his father, he also expresses fear. The poet shows this fear through the use of words as “battered” (l .10) and “scraped” (l. 12).

The poet has used imagery to explain the amusing moments between the son and his father together. However, parts of this poem show the fear the son has for his father. “We romped until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf” (ll. 5-6) describes that they are having fun as they romped around the house even though they are being wreck less. The poet describes the caring nature of his father for his son when he said, “The hand that held my wrist” (l. 9). The holding hand symbolizes close relationship that they had. This contrasts with the beginning of the poems first lines; “[t]he wiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy” (ll. 1-2). This gives an impression of father being drunk who has the ability to hurt the child. This ingrains the fear into the child.

Theodore uses metaphors in this poem to describe the relationship with his father. The metaphor, “[b]ut I hung on like death” (1.3), shows his dependency on his father and his need to hang on to him. The poet also uses the metaphor, “[s]till clinging to your shirt”(l.16) to again emphasize the reliance the son has towards his father. He uses these metapho.

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My Papas Waltz

My Papa 's Waltz

Theodore Roethke 's poem. My Papa 's Waltz. can be quite mystifying in terms of comprehending the exact feeling of the speaker towards his father. Presumably. one would immediately notice the impression created by the author regarding the father. The first line of the poem already suggests the negative image of the father as a drunken man playing with his son. The whiskey on your breath / Could make a small boy dizzy But I hung on like death / Such waltzing was

not easy (Roethke 30 The first stanza speaks of the narrator 's recollection of the nausea that his father 's drunkenness has caused when he was a little boy

After finishing Theodore Roethke 's poem. it is quite clear that the speaker implies contrasting emotions of pain and enjoyment of a son 's rough dance with his father. However. despite the pain caused by the alcohol smell. he still appreciated his father 's efforts in waltzing with him for he knew it was not that easy. Furthermore. it can also be noticed that the pain that the narrator felt is directly insinuated in the poem in this stanza. The hand that held my wrist / Was battered on one knuckle / At every step you missed / My right ear scraped a buckle (Roethke 30. theless. the contrasting emotions of the narrator 's enjoyment were implicit. Instead. the emotions were portrayed through the words that the author has chosen to describe the situation According.

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My Papa s Waltz Analysis

My Papa's Waltz My Papa's Waltz Analysis Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our.

Form and Meter

This poem has a simple ABAB rhyme scheme, meaning that every other line within a stanza rhymes. Many of the rhymes, though, are slant rhymes (words that almost rhyme, but not quite). Let take a loo.


Our speaker is the "small boy" in the second line. He's probably up late, complaining about having to go to bed when his parents are still up. Maybe he's even been forced into cozy pajamas, ready t.


This poem takes place in, or at least near, the kitchen of this family's home. The poem was written in the 1940s, so we can assume it is set some time before then. The family probably didn't have a.

Sound Check

This poem sounds like what it's about: a waltz. Waltzes are songs that are written in ¾ time, and the dance that accompanies them has three steps. The waltz is a graceful, intimate dance, norm.

What's Up With the Title?

At first glance, it would seem that the title is fairly self-evident. Here's a kid, dancing with his father. But the title immensely helps out our speaker. It sets the scene of the poem before we e.

Calling Card

Even though all of Roethke's poems aren't explicitly about his father, the poet's childhood spent following his father around his Michigan greenhouse had a huge influence on his writing. When Roeth.


Besides a few stray words, the language in this piece is pretty accessible. It's easy, though, to get sucked into trying to fit the poem into a category – either it's about an alcoholic, abus.

Brain Snacks Sex Rating

There's alcohol in this poem, and a little bit of violent imagery, but certainly no sex.

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By: Theodore Roethke

The poem being told can be told in two perspectives. One, it could be told as a child getting abused by his father, or two, it could be told as if the father in the poem has had too many drinks and is dancing around the kitchen with his son. I took this in the perspective of a child abuse. The poem is about a father who I think has had a stressful day and went to have a couple drinks. When he came home he took his anger, and frustrations upon his son. Has he beat him with his belt, pushed him into a shelf full of pans, punched him in the head, and then took him to bed.

I think this relates to all people because there are some kids that actually go through what the kid in the poem is going through. There are some kids that do not have to go though getting abused by their mother or father. The government has made a special program for kids that have been abused to be taken and either but in a foster home or given to another relative.

I can relate this poem to the song "what would u do" by city high. There is one verse in the song that refers to two girls getting abused by their father. Their result was to run away to avoid getting abused. I can also refer this to the movie "mommy dearest," it's about this mother who has a psychological disorder, and demands everything from her children.

This poem makes me feel angry, and sad. I can not believe that someone can take his or her frustrations out on a kid who can't compare to a figure of a full size adult. I can not relate.

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My Papa's Waltz
The father and son in the poem "My Papa’s Waltz" ;by Theodore Roethke have a complex relationship mixed with fear, joy, and love. The boy says that he "hung on.

Tim Culhane 2/20/01 “My Papa’s Waltz” ;Throughout the poem, “My Papa’s Waltz” ;by Theodore Roethke, many techniques are used to show that there are furious conflicts between a father and his son. Roethke uses the word waltz in the title to relate to the beating of the son. I believe that the poem is altogether a negative poem, as described by the words and phrases the author uses. To begin, the author immediately states that the father is a

"My Papa's Waltz"
Theodoe Roethke writes a very simple poem called "My Papa's Waltz". Roethke will not let his characters communicate and reveal thier feelings and you must determine for yourself if fhe.

drunk. Roethke says, “The whiskey on your breath / Could make a small boy dizzy”. The boy knows his father is drunk, and therefore knows he will be beaten. Since the boy realizes that he will be beaten, it shows that he has encountered this before. The beating of the little boy adds to the negativity of the depressing and lonely poem. Furthermore, the fact that the father is drunk continues to show throughout the poem. While there are

my papa's waltz
Tone of “My Papa’s Waltz” In the beginning of “My Papa’s Waltz,” the little boy, the speaker, starts off with a somewhat of a frightening tone in his voice.

many negative ideas in the poem, the next is when Roethke states, “At every step you missed / My right ear scraped a buckle”. This in fact shows that the little boy is being drug around by the drunken father. In this particular instance the boy is being hauled around, but the author compares it to a dance when you would “miss a step” ;and stumble. Roethke then states, “You beat time on my head”, as if he were keeping

My Papa's Waltz
Tone of “My Papa’s Waltz” In the beginning of “My Papa’s Waltz,” the little boy, the speaker, starts off with a somewhat of a frightening tone in his voice. He.

time for a dance or a rhythm on the boys head. This all enlarges the negativity and sadness of the poem. The small boy also states, “But I hung on like death”. This proves that the boy was thinking about death, but dangling on to prevent it. During this whole incident the boy’s mother sits and watches as the abuse

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Free English Literature essays Essay: Theodore Roethke’s ‘My Papa’s Waltz’

“My Papa’s Waltz” is about a brief moment in time with a family. Father and son waltzing throughout the kitchen, with mother unhappily watching on the side. There is disputation about the family in ‘My Papa’s Waltz.’ Some would believe this is a happily ever after family moment. Others see alcohol and abuse. I believe that even though there may be fear and love blended all together in this family, there are few ominous secrets hiding in ‘My Papa’s Waltz’ other than death tearing apart the family.
In Theodore Roethke’s ‘My Papa’s Waltz,’ one could without a doubt be confused by the title itself. It seems the title is pretty self-evident. A waltz is a three beat dance. The waltz is supposed to be a graceful, affectionate dance with you and your partner. To me, a dance is supposed to make two people inseparable. The waltz in ‘My Papa’s Waltz’ creates that image, while also creating an ominous point of this waltz, which is a strong disturbing feeling beneath the cover of ‘My Papa’s Waltz,’ controls the atmosphere, and the love and affection of this waltz does not create a good first impression on the reader. After some read ‘My Papa’s Waltz,’ one could mistake it for child abuse or rough love. The reader could assume that the waltz could describe the relationship between the father and son. Love and fear.
So who exactly is the speaker here? The second line in ‘My Papa’s Waltz’ states ‘Could make a small boy dizzy.’ You can now assume that the speaker is a small boy. If you think about it carefully, you realize that it is not the small boy as described in ‘My Papa’s Waltz’ because ‘My Papa’s Waltz’ is offered in the past tense. It may be the child writing at a later point in his life. The narrator of ‘My Papa’s Waltz’ is a grown man recollecting his immaturity. We receive few clues about why the adult narrator is recollecting moments in his immaturity.
‘Beat’ is a apparent sign of neglect. The image of father’s buckle scraping his son’s ear, proved that the father would use any weapons usable to perform this abuse, or, just a belt. Although the mother looks but does not get involved, she feels bad that she cannot keep her husband from beating their son. However the mother does not condone it, seeing as we see ‘My mother’s countenance /could not unfrown itself’ in lines seven and eight. The mother’s condemnation of what is happening seems to be additional proof that the child’s dad is not behaving like a good role model to his son. The son does not seem to be having fun at all. He defines the ‘waltz’ as forcing him to hang on ‘like death.’ Not a good definition of what a child would want. The word ‘death’ produced in a poem that also includes the violent word ‘beat’ to define the act of a father with his son is not enough evidence for the reading of ‘My Papa’s Waltz’ in my opinion. ‘Death’ produces an ominous warning that child abuse has frequent deadly results. If there is any confusion, the verifiable truth that the father is drunk, should be enough said. The first line of ‘My Papa’s Waltz’ points out he is intoxication by acquiring our attention to the ‘whiskey’ on his breath as the first fact we discover about the father and his dance. This drunk father, is abusing the child.
On the other hand, let us take a look at ‘My Papa’s Waltz’ from a different point of view. The father arrives home, to his family, after work, just before his son goes to sleep. He does not take time to wash seeing as he still has ‘a palm caked hard by dirt.’ He wants to spend time with his son doing something fun. So, he and his waltz around the house. ‘Romped’ suggested for me that this was a beneficial, playful experience. Imagine a huge man playing and dancing all up and down the house with his son. It is not difficult to understand why a mom might frown upon buffoonery. It is the child’s bedtime, and the father is attempting to get his son hype when he is supposed to be in bed and sleep. They are both dancing and playing around messing up the kitchen so that just adds to the mother’s frowning countenance. Mom does not seem to approve, but she does not do anything to stop them. To me, this meant that even though she did not enjoy this waltz, she did not want to ruin a father and son moment. As for the buckle, I think, the son’s head was at his dad’s waist level, so every now and then, the son’s ‘right ear scraped a buckle’ on the dad’s belt. The final lines of ‘My Papa’s Waltz’ proves that this is the situation of the father and son, as the child remembers his dad ‘waltzed me off to bed’ holding tight to his shirt. Under the circumstances of this type of waltz, the idea that the son is ‘clinging’ to his dad advocates both that he counts on his dad and that he has an immature response to the threat that the waltzing will stop due to bedtime.
Do I see playfulness and grace in them, rather than violence? I understood the ‘My Papa’s Waltz as playfulness and grace. Evidence of Grace is not only shown in paragraph four but also in the title as shown in the first paragraph. A waltz is a three beat dance. The waltz is supposed to be a graceful, affectionate dance with you and your partner. To me, a dance is supposed to make two people inseparable. So to get that confused with violence, is kind of unlikely to me. Regardless of how I understood ‘My Papa’s Waltz,’ I could be completely wrong about ‘My Papa’s Waltz’. It could be quickly turned around as seen in the third paragraph.

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My Papa s Waltz - Essays

My Papa's Waltz My Papa's Waltz

"My Papa's Waltz"
March 28, 2011

"My Papa's Waltz"
My Papa’s Waltz is a fairly straightforward poem written in iambic triameter. The last word of the first and third line of each quatrain rhyme as does the last word of the second and fourth line. This poem is a reflection of an event in the life of a little boy, and because of the rhyming style of poem, it is clear it is written from a child’s perspective. The little boy recalls an experience dancing a waltz with his father in their home. Although there are many opinions circulating about whether or not his was a positive experience, I think it was. I think this is a memory of a small boy cavorting with his father.
The first stanza tells the reader that the father has had perhaps too much whiskey to drink. The boy says that the smell of his father’s breath made him dizzy. This must mean that the boy is very familiar with his father in this drunken state. This does not necessarily mean that the boy was traumatized by this event, just simply that he knows his father has had some whiskey to drink. He recalls that he had to hang on tight and that it was not easy for him to hold on to his father during this waltz. The waltz is typically a slow ballroom dance in three-quarter time that give the impression that the dancers are gliding around the room. The boy’s dance with his father is hardly gliding around a room considering the boy says he “hung on like death” (Barnet, Burto, & Cain, 2011, p. 786).
In the next stanza the wild waltz continues as the boys and his father romp around the kitchen knocking pans from the shelf. In this stanza, the son recalls his mother’s reaction to this boisterous activity in her kitchen. The son says that his “mother’s countenance could not unfrown itself” (Barnet, Burto, & Cain, 2011, p. 786). Countenance refers to his mother’s expression, an expression that could not change from a frown. His mother could not smile. At this point in the poem perhaps the.

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