My Papa's Waltz Analysis

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Different Angles Mean Different Interpretations How is one’s interpretation formed when exploring a literary work? Theodore Roethke’s poem “My Papa’s Waltz” shows the angle a literary work is viewed from is a decisive factor in forming a perception. The poem’s persona gives plenty of information for the reader to interpret contrasting positions through the use of subtleties, metaphors and irony. This will depend largely on how the reader interprets the speaker’s literary meaning while the father and son waltz to bed. Meanwhile, the speaker’s tone and word usage in “My Papa’s Waltz” conveys several interpretations such as a father’s love and devotion toward his son while, simultaneously, showing a son’s reflection of love and resentment toward his father in later years. One interpretation of Roethke’s work is in respect to the father: he is a fun-loving, devoted father, since he makes his son’s trip to bed interesting by “waltzing.” The author’s word choice he uses for imagery in the poem’s title acoustically paints a fun picture in the reader’s mind initially by referring to a papa’s waltz. The words papa and waltz have an initial connotation of affection and happy, respectfully, which invokes the reader to believe “Papa” is affectionate and has an energetic or happy walk about him. Subsequently, the speaker says, “We romped until the pans / Slid from the kitchen shelf;” (Roethke) [lines 5-6]. These lines show that the father does in fact have an energetic walk about him.
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