"This love dance, a kind of blood rite between father and son, shows suppressed terror combined with awe-inspired dependency" (Balakian 62). "The hand that held my wrist/was battered on one knuckle;/ At every step you missed/ My right ear scraped a buckle"(Roethke 668). The speaker's father's hand being "battered on one knuckle" is indicative of a man who... ... middle of paper ... ... quite demonstrative of how Bridges 5 powerful his feelings for his father must have been. "…Roethke tried, through careful revisions to balance negative and positive tones in 'My Papa's Waltz'" (McKenna 36). Although the dance between him and his father was rough and aggressive, the very fact that Roethke chose to write about the waltz indicates that it is a special moment he remembers sharing with his father.
“My Papa’s Waltz” is a poem written by Theodore Roethke describing a son’s memory of his drunken father. At the start of the poem, one might assume that it is a poem about how the father beats the son, but it does not specifically say that it is about domestic violence. It simply states that the father was drunk and that he and his son were “waltzing” around the house. To some, the act of “waltzing” is an act of love, despite the father being drunk. To others, it could mean that the father was abusive and was harming his son.
Theodore Roethke’s poem “My Papa’s Waltz” demonstrates a young boy’s affection for his father’s love, even if that means having to tolerate his father being drunk. Many critics believe that “My Papa’s Waltz” is a sad depressing poem, when really it is a poem of affection. If people read the poem only once, many readers will automatically jump to conclusion that the poem is talking about abuse. This poem is definitely a poem that needs to be read more than once to fully get all of the details in place. Many critics think the poem talks about a father who comes home drunk and is beating his son.
Apparently, the father likes whisky and the smell of it is remaining on his person, which causes the young boy's aversion. The diction of "dizzy" depicts the young boy is getting overwhelmed by the smell of the drink. Imagine how a little child feels when he notices the strange smell of his parent, He feels weak or even scared. That is exactly what the young boy feels when he saw his drunken father with the distasteful smell. The poem then goes on saying: "but I hung on like death, such waltzing was not easy."
Theodore Roethke along with many other types of writers seem to love encrypting messeges within their own poetry. In “My Papa’s Waltz” Theodore does just this by using the obvious that the father is a drunk and sliding in a messege that shows the poem from a different perspective almost. In the beginning of the story you would assume maybe the father is the antagonist of the story but Theodore shines light on the father that ultimately makes him the protagonist. In the text spoken through the son, Theodore shares the picture of a child abused by his father, but gives the father a pass almost to were everything he does was still seen as okay or normal to the son. Although very short in length this poem actually has a good amount to talk about.
Desperate Love in My Papa’s Waltz Angry words, punches, and belt buckles each may be thrown when a drunken parent becomes frustrated with his or her child. On the other hand, alcohol can also cause people to exuberantly sing or dance. In the poem "My Papa’s Waltz", Theodore Roethke describes the latter situation in a literal sense. However, a closer look at Roethke’s choice of words, the poem’s imagery, emotions, and irony reveals a painful and confusing encounter between a boy and his drunken Papa. Roethke chooses specific words in his poem to alert the reader of the violent nature of the waltz.
As the little boy and his father continued to dance around the house and have a good time, the little boy’s mother was getting angry at the father. Roethke concludes,” My mother’s countenance / Could not unfrown itself” (Roethke 8-9). Roethke adds, “The hand that held my wrist/Was battered on one knuckle;” (Roethke 9-10). This shows his father is a hardworking man. The work that his father produces makes his knuckles bleed.
Another way that the author uses irony is when Mick is dragging Larry home, and gets embarrassed by his son’s actions: “Who are ye laughing at?...Go away, ye bloody bitches!” (O’Connor, 302). After this episode, comes Micks has an epiphany about how he acts when drunk, and later swears off the drink. This is also humorous as it is a reversal of expectations, but in a non-traditional way. The author used the humour to make light of a serious situation, a child being drunk. Lastly, Larry’s ‘holiday’ until his eye healed is ironic as most parents would want their child to get back to regular life, and learn from their mistakes.
Her facial expression “Could not unfrown itself” (8). This tells us that the mother was displeased but its rather discerning that she made no attempt at intervening. We would normally think of a mother’s love as unconditional and willing to do anything for her son. It really shows the degree of fear the father must have embedded into the mother with his actions. The eleventh through fourteenth lines describe actual, bodily harm done to the young boy by way of his father’s acts: “At every step you missed / My right ear scraped a buckle / You beat time on my head / With a palm caked hard by dirt” (11-14).
Lines 7 and 8, “My mother’s countenance, Could not unfrown itself.” This helps the reader understand the mother’s perspective on things. She is unhappy seeing what is going on which is why she is frowning. Although she never says anything it can be implied that because of the fact that the mother never speaks up just shows how scared she could be of her drunk husband. Lines 9 and 10, “The hand that held my wrist Was battered on one knuckle”, with this line the reader is able to see using imagery that the father is a hard worker because as said above his knuckle was battered. The reader can also take this in a different direction by saying that his hand was battered from beating his child as well.