English 200 Final paper

English 200 Final paper - 1 Deana Croog Final Paper English...

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1 Deana Croog Final Paper English 200 Rachel Mordecai Violence in Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz” And Komunyakaa’s “Nude Interrogation” Yosef Komunyakaa’s “Nude Interrogation” and Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz” are poems that may initially be read as both warm and playful in tone, but upon further examination, are strikingly violent. In Komunyakaa’s “Nude Interrogation”, a young man’s erotic experience with a woman is seen from the perspective of the man as a lover, but also as from the perspective of the man as a wounded veteran of the Vietnam War. In Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz”, the character recalls his time with his father from the perspective of himself as a young boy, but also as an adult looking back on the disastrous dance; thus, there are dual tones- one of unbridled joy and pleasure, and one of terror. Roethke and Komunyakaa both express the various levels of joy and violence by offering speakers with two contrasting perspectives. Furthermore, to interconnect the two tones and perspectives simultaneously and effectively, Komunyakaa uses such literary devices as tone, dialogue, color, and symbolism, while Roethke uses tone, rhyme, diction, and symbolism to do so. A first read of “Nude Interrogation” may only offer a sensual, chimerical tone. The colors in the poem are soothing: the belle’s “pale muslin blouse”, her “rainbow miniskirt”, and “sky blue panties” (Komunyakaa, 3079-3080). Other pieces crucial to tone and mood appeal to the senses, such as the incense, “hanging a slow comet of
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2 perfume over the room”, and the “black light”, and rock guitar of Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” (Komunyakaa, 3079-3080). Even the dialogue can be perceived, in a context in which the lovers are entranced by one another, as some sort of pillow talk, rather than being substantive conversation. At first read, the lovers’ haze is pleasant, erotic, and one may interpret the young woman being “nude against the falling snow” in coordination with the dreamy “far wall of Xanadu”, and the young man’s “looking up at the sky” as indications of his infatuation with the woman, lying in bed with her, entranced by her beauty (Komunyakaa, 3080). Komunyakaa’s subtle use of color, dialogue, and mood serve to create this first, sensual and relaxing tone that is present in “Nude Interrogation”. A closer reading of “Nude Interrogation” calls for a reevaluation of the one- dimensional pleasant and sensual tone. There is a second perspective, in which the young man is experiencing the past and the present as a recent Vietnam veteran. This persona that the man assumes is weaved with the simpler “lover’s perspective”, chiefly through Komunyakaa’s use of dialogue. Dialogue is used as a mechanism to connect and parallel the young man’s war stories in Vietnam with his romantic rendezvous in his bedroom. Thus, a complex mood is created, using and interpreting the wealth of sensory images,
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This note was uploaded on 10/13/2011 for the course ENGLISH 200 taught by Professor Rachelmordecai during the Fall '10 term at UMass (Amherst).

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English 200 Final paper - 1 Deana Croog Final Paper English...

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