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Connotation In My Papa's Waltz

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The relationship between father and son is one that is both sacred, yet complex as each side of the relationship faces hardships. This relationship between a son and his role model, a father and his child, is one, has its ups, but one must also know it has downs. In Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz,” Roethke’s use of ambiguity through diction allows room for the audience to interpret the text in a positive or a negative way, representing the relationship between a father and a son, which on the outside can be interpreted in an either positive or a negative way. Roethke’s use of diction creates an element of confusion for the audience of his poem. Words with a positive connotation allow the reader to see the positive relationships, although…show more content…
The use of positive connotation in the text is utilised to illuminate the positives of the relationship, as they “romp” and “waltz” their way through a fun life. However, Roethke intentionally included those words with negative connotation to show the constant complexity and imperfect nature of their relationship. In lines 3-4, Roethke states “[b]ut I held on like death:/[s]uch waltzing was not easy,” which is the first metaphor for their relationship. In this quote from the text, as Roethke preaches the difficulty of the waltz, he is really writing about the relationship between his father and son as being “not easy.” And although their relationship is not easy as it goes through life, the boy still “hung on like death,” showing his love for his father and another positive for the relationship. Another example of this, in the last stanza, lines 15-16, is made as Roethke notes “[t]hen waltzed me off to bed/[s]till clinging to your shirt.” The last lines of the poem show the true relationship at the end of all the confusion lost in the midst of the middle of the poem. The father loves his son and waltzes him to bed and the boy, loving his father, slings to his shirt to stay with him. The poem expresses the confusion and complexity created in a relationship such as this one between father and son, but at the end, the confusion is unnecessary and what prevails is not the negatives, but instead the positive aspect of
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