Theodore Roethke No Fun Waltz Analysis

439 Words2 Pages
No Fun Waltz

In his poem, “My Papa’s Waltz”, Theodore Roethke captures a memory of a time when his father was under the influence of alcohol. Roethke describes the endeavor with a negative tone and diction that is exemplified by the description of the protagonist’s father, mother, and self, there is one key factor in this story that keeps it in a playful tone and not a one-hundred percent negative poem, and that is Roethke. His personal description of this experience promotes an overwhelmingly positive contrast to the bleak and negative tone of the rest of the poem. It is not negative, but at the same time it is not positive, it is somewhere in between.

The tone of the poem was set into a negative direction due to the situation at hand. Roethke’s father is under the influence of alcohol; that is made abundantly clear in lines 1 and 2 when Roethke writes, “The whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy”(Roethke lines 1 & 2). It is difficult to find a positive tone in a story that involves a character that is, for lack of a better term, drunk. Alcohol is burdened with a negative public view and opinion that is shared among many people.

The diction is also negative in this poem. When Roethke wrote such statements as, “But I hung on like death” and, “My mother’s countenance could not unfrown itself”, it seems as though he is describing the negative nature of this event during his life through what he is interpreting from his mother’s and father’s actions and mood(lines 3, 6 and 7).

The one part of this poem that is in a completely different tone from the rest of the
…show more content…
While the overall tone appears negative, the events within the story that directly affect Roethke have a positive and joyful overtone.

Works Cited

Roethke, Theodore. “My Papa’s Waltz.” Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2007. 856-57.
Open Document