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Parent/Child Love/Relationship in My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Roethke - Essay Example

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Parent/Child Love/Relationship in “My Papa's Waltz’ by Theodore Roethke A Critical Appreciation /Analysis of the Poem ‘My Papa's Waltz’ by Theodore Roethke is a skillfully woven poem that focuses on human relationship, particularly, love, that ties the family together…
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Parent/Child Love/Relationship in My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Roethke

Download file to see previous pages... Devotion keeps him quiet. He refers to the unpleasant side of the matter. The foul smell from his father’s breath, ‘the whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy’ points out that the smell was bad enough to hit him with nausea. His reference to his father’s dirty hands, ‘palm caked hard by dirt’, his clumsy waltz steps, ‘At every step you missed, My right ear scraped a buckle.‘, and ‘You beat time on my head.‘ implies his uncomfortable situation, all in the name of love, which he could neither deny, nor protest. Despite all the distaste, their relationship is firm and strong, and he feels a sense of commitment. This poem gives us a glimpse of the poet’s childhood, his relationship with his father, a close relationship, based on love. In childhood, the poet loved to be in the company of his father, in the greenhouse owned by his father and uncle, which gives us an idea of their being close. The poem is somewhat autobiographical, for in the poem, the father’s dirty hands suggests his work in the greenhouse. In the poem, the boy is close to his father, a kind of reverence works within, it seems, for those who are revered cannot be questioned. The boy’s father is totally unaware of the complexities he creates. In his crude way, he showers his love on his child, which the child also returns despite the disgust he feels, owing to his father’s rough, indecent and unacceptable manners and habits. The father is an alcoholic, dancing in the kitchen, messing up the place, annoying his mother, as the frown on her face suggests, when he brings down the pans on the floor by dancing there; and, by the foul smell from his mouth, and his unsteady steps, annoying the boy. The mother’s frown helps in one’s observation of the situation that exists in the home. Love is flowing to the brim, on the part of the father, it seems, though some may see it the other way round. However, from the speaker’s point of view, namely, the child, much remains to be desired. A twenty-first century child would have all the sympathy with him to see him suffer in a manner such as this, for they believe in having a little space for themselves. However, despite the theme of love, the theme of fear cannot be cast aside altogether. There are many hints of that if one reads between the lines. The mother is seen frowning but does not complain; the boy is scraped by the buckle, but does not utter a word, leave alone protest. His father’s foul breath makes him dizzy, but he reveres him, or fears him, too much to complain. His head is used for tapping the beat, and who would like that? The space is too congested for a waltz, yet it has to go on, for the man wants it. Could there be a touch of masculine power at work there? The more one looks at it closely, more the interpretations, but it would be wise not to go out of track. If it is ‘love’ that is in question, we will have to agree that it is fully there. A father returns home from work, tired, no doubt, but he showers his attention on his child. He playfully dances around with the son, and finally, puts him in bed. Only a father to whom family bonds are important would do that! The boy mentions his father’s battered knuckle. Was it from a sense of disgust or sympathy? I prefer to agree with the latter. That means the boy very well understood that all that his father was doing was to please him and make him feel important, to show that he cared, and he surely respected his father for that. That he was not enjoying was ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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