My Papa's Waltz - 1 Theodore Roethke's Waltz The poem...

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Theodore Roethke’s Waltz The poem “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke cleverly describes dancing between a narrator and his or her father. The narrator mentions ambiguous traits about the father, leaving one to wonder about the author’s true underlying feelings and motivations behind the poem. Is the narrator describing a fun, memorable moment shared with his father, or describing a relationship plagued by alcoholism and parental absence? “The whiskey on your breath” begins the poem grimly and puts the reader uncomfortably in to the arms of a dancing drunk breathing down our necks. The father’s drunkenness may be contributing to other problems as well as the narrator describes his father’s dancing technique saying, “The hand that held my wrist / Was battered on one knuckle” (9-10). This suggests the father has a violent temper and his damaged hand is a result of fighting, fighting that may also stem from his alcohol abuse. In the final stanza the father’s hands are mentioned again, “With a palm caked by dirt” (14).
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This note was uploaded on 03/25/2008 for the course ENG 260 taught by Professor Heckman during the Spring '08 term at Michigan State University.

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My Papa's Waltz - 1 Theodore Roethke's Waltz The poem...

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