Relationships are very complex. To an outsider looking in, it may appear to be an unhealthy, or maybe even an abusive relationship, when in actuality it is a healthy relationship. Sure, the relationship may be different, but still it remains a healthy relationship which is what is important. This describes the relationship between the father and the son in the poem “My Papa’s Waltz.” On the surface, the father appears to be a drunk, and the kid, somewhat skittish, or scared around him; however, one must dig deeper than the surface level to be able to comprehend and appreciate the love shared between the father and the son in this poem. Through the use of literary devices such as extended metaphors and similes, the reader can see that the waltz is not merely a dance shared between the father and son; it reflects the relationship of the two. Likewise, the form of the poem plays a similar role. The fact that the form is very structured, and offers up little change as the poem goes on echoes how the waltz is similar to the relationship to the father and the son. A change that the poem does offer up is the tone of the language of the poem. It starts off rather melancholy to becoming more positive and upbeat. In the poem “My Papa’s Waltz,” Roethke builds a strong, loving emotional bridge between a father and a son via waltzing, and in doing so breaks down the pre conceived notion that drunken fathers are abusive fathers, and are incapable of loving.
Anyone that has ever loved knows that it is mysterious and unexplainable, and the way it is expressed differs from person to person. Throughout the poem, the use of similes and Gamerdinger 2
metaphors are used in order to better develop the relationship of love and care between the father and the son. The waltz itself is an extended metaphor for the love the father and the son have for one another. Love is not always smooth, and the waltz in this story is not smooth either. This is seen when...
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