Essay About Love in My Papa's Waltz, Facts, Night Driving, Those Winter Sundays, Digging, and Daddy
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Love in My Papa's Waltz, Facts, Night Driving, Those Winter Sundays, Digging, and Daddy
I have elected to analyze seven poems spoken by a child to its parent. Despite a wide variety of sentiments, all share one theme: the deep and complicated love between child and parent.
The first poem, "My Papa's Waltz," by Theodore Roethke (Page 18) presents a clear picture of the young man's father, from line one. "Whiskey" on the father's breath is one of many clues in appearance that mold a rough image of this uneducated, blue-collar worker, possibly a European immigrant, as indicated by the "Waltz" in the title (Line 1). These traits are not necessarily related. They merely exist at once in the father's character. Additional signs of roughness are his hand, "battered on one knuckle"(11), and "a palm caked hard by dirt"(14). This is a man who has probably known only grueling labor. His few escapes likely consist of a drink or two when he gets home from a tough day and maybe something good on the radio. This idea of the father as an unrefined oaf is further reinforced by his actions. His missed steps injure the child's ear, while the father and son's "romping" causes the pans to slide "from the kitchen shelf"(6). As he "beat[s] time"(13) on the child's head we see very clearly that he is quite brutish and careless with the child, and oblivious to his environment. All these factors make the boy's mother very uncomfortable. We can see the disapproval in her countenance, which "could not unfrown itself"(8). She is obviously upset but, strangely, does nothing to interfere with the horseplay that grieves her. This suggests that the waltz is enjoyable for not only one, but both parties. One might wonder why it is that the boy so delights in these moments. This is obviously a crude, boorish man. He probably doesn't flush. He may even smell bad. Are these reasons to love one's father less? Certainly not in the eyes of a small boy. This young man's father may not be the most sensitive or perceptive man around, but he still seems to be a hero in the eyes of his son. Finally, the son recalls these words: "Then you waltzed me off to bed/ Still clinging to your shirt"(16). After reading this poem, it is clear just how unconditional a child's love is.