Lasting Impressions

Topics: Family, Alcoholism, Smile Pages: 3 (1077 words) Published: April 20, 2008
Throughout the ages, authors have been known to use many of their life experiences in their literary works. They use certain moments that have been imprinted in their heads, because in some way these specific experiences have changed their lives. For instance, Theodore Roethke wrote the poem, “My Papa’s Waltz” in which he writes about a moment from his early childhood that probably affected him so deeply that he was never able to forget about it. This shows that certain moments in our childhood are particularly crucial to the way we turn out to be as adults.

In “My Papa’s Waltz”, Roethke confuses the reader because the poem reminisces a specific event in his life in which he describes a time when his father got home from work with alcohol in his breath. The line “The whiskey on your breath, could make a small boy dizzy” [1-2] shows that Roethke’s father probably had a substantial amount of alcohol in his body, enough to not only make him drunk but also make his son a bit dizzy from the smell. With this line alone, one can automatically jump to the conclusion that the father was an alcoholic, thus, making the reader’s mind set on that the father was a bad person due to his substance abuse problem. However, when one keeps reading the poem, one realizes that all the way through the end Roethke clings on to his father’s shirt. This automatically causes a shock to the reader because it would be common sense to get away from a drunken, mean person. Nevertheless, it may be possible that the father in fact smelled like alcohol but he was actually not drunk. Maybe he was just coming home from a long day of work, had a bit of whiskey, and now he was putting his son off to bed. Since we can never be certain on what really happened, we cannot figure out if the poet remembers this moment as a positive or negative experience.

Moreover, in the book “ Making Literature Matter” by John Schilb and John Clifford, there is a brief biography of Roethke’s life where it explains...
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