My Papa's Waltz Tone

683 Words3 Pages
While the subject of “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke has spurred passionate academic debate from professors, scholars, and students alike, the imagery, syntax, and diction of the poem clearly support the interpretation that Roethke writes “My Papa’s Waltz” to ruminate on the abusive memory of his alcoholic father. Roethke uses playful imagery and a rhyme scheme to lighten the traumatic tone. Without a doubt, personal experience shapes one’s interpretation of “My papa’s Waltz”. One can say the “waltz” means Roethke and his father joyfully and formally dance , others say it means a continuous cycle of abuse. Ultimately , I believe that during our analysis of the poem we will come to find it is quite dark in tone. The controversiality of the poem becomes increasingly clear when one carefully examines the negative connotation of the poem. When it comes to the topic of abuse, many readers readily agree that this poem is about a young boy being abused by his alcoholic father. Where this argument usually ends, however, is on the question of…show more content…
Admittedly even if readers see the positive side of this poem it is hard to outright ignore the negative underlying themes. In discussions of “My Papa’s Waltz”, one controversial issue has been the subject matter of the poem. On the one hand , some readers argue that the poem is about a fond memory Roethke had with his father. One the other hand, many readers contend it’s not about a loving fond memory but rather a painful reminder of “Papa's”shortcomings. However, after deconstructing the poem, it becomes increasingly clear Roethke felt he should share this repressed memory to his audience. While the poem may seem to end innocently enough, it is up to the reader to delve into the possible repercussions of the fathers “dance” with his
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