My Papa's Waltz

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Adam Crowley
The poem, “My Papa’s Waltz,” by Theodore Roethke, is about the ongoing issue of a father physically abusing his young son. There are many specific details throughout the poem that support this idea. The father in this poem is a violent alcoholic. It is a common and ongoing problem in this particular household. Finally, I believe that both the mother and child disapprove of the father’s actions, but don’t dare to take action against him. This poem shows the reader what happens on a typical night at this particular household. Physical abuse from a father to his son is a normal occurrence in this household. “My Papa’s Waltz,” is a poem about violence. The man in “My Papa’s Waltz” is very violent. There is evidence in the poem that suggests he is an alcoholic. Evidence that the father is a violent alcoholic can be found in the first two lines of the poem. The first two lines say, “The whiskey on your breath/Could make a small boy dizzy,” which literally tells the reader that the man is under the influence of alcohol. When he says, “But I hung on like death/Such waltzing was not easy,” it gives the reader the idea that his father is being very rough with him and he is skeptical to participate in any kind of activity with his father, however, he has no choice. More violence is evident when the speaker says, “We romped until the pans/Slid from the kitchen shelf.” This suggests a struggle. An image that comes to mind is the little boy being thrown into the wall and knocking the pans off of a nearby shelf with the force of his body. More evidence that violence is in this poem is on line ten. Line ten reads, “Was battered on one knuckle.” This means that the speaker’s hand is all scraped up and bloody, possibly from a struggle or banging it off something. “You beat time on my head/with a palm caked hard by dirt,” shows even more evidence that there is violence occurring in the poem. “With a palm caked hard by dirt” tells a little...
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