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The Circle of Memory in My Papa's Waltz - Essay Example

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[Name of the Writer] [Name of Instructor] [Subject] [Date] The Circle of Memory in “My Papa's Waltz” Roethke's poem “My Papa's Waltz” is an ambiguous, ambivalent and intricate poem that raises an issue with opposing views and arguments. The use of waltz by the author in this poem is purposely used to complicate the relationship between the son and his father…
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The Circle of Memory in My Papas Waltz
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Download file to see previous pages Readers now begin to wonder, does the waltz dance ignites a painful memory for the speaker or happy memory? Does the waltz dance bring out the father’s clumsiness and a moment of fun with the speaker, or does it bring out issues of alcoholism and child abuse? Therefore, waltz becomes the center of the themes that it portrays while at the same time, becoming the center of controversy. One way, that depicts the use of waltz to complicate the father-son relationship, is through the argument that the speaker remembers his father's bouts of drunken behavior and how they affected him as a child. Another side of argument views that the waltz depicts the love between the father and son, since the former, despite his heavy drinking after a day’s hard work, got time to spend and dance with his son. However, in the first argument, the speaker remembers how his father slapped him around due to his inebriated state, also, that he became violent after drinking too much. Memory plays a vital role in the poem as the speaker is a grown man who remembers his childhood experiences. The subjective lens of memory reveals that the speaker perceives his father's “waltz” differently now than he did as a child. The speaker also expresses how he felt confused by his father's behavior as a child. As a child, the speaker views his father's violence as actually being a display of emotion and affection. He explains how his childhood perception of his father allowed him to confuse his father's violence with dancing. The waltz symbolizes how the speaker views his father's behavior differently as an adult as he acknowledges how his father had a strange, troubling way of expressing his love and affection. The circle of memory is inseparable from the speaker's view of the waltz as a strange, tenuous bond he had with his father. This represents confusion, not only to the reader, but also to the speaker. Since the poem is a memory of when he was young, the waltz seems to represent something different from when the speaker was young. As stated earlier, the use of waltz in the poem is purposely used to complicate the relationship between the father and the speaker. This also implies that the speaker is also confused by the meaning of the dance. His view about the dance then seems to have changed now that he is fully grown. However still, confusion lingers on his memories. The waltz reveals that the speaker's memory of his father changes over time, and hence that the “beat” of his father's fist is part of the beat of the speaker's memory. The father's movements reveal that he is intoxicated as he is moving around the room aimlessly. Similarly, the speaker's memory wanders in aimless circles in his attempt to decipher the full meaning of his father's behavior. The speaker's endeavor to find certainty regarding his father's waltz reveals his desire for objectivity. The following lines reveal that he desires to be as objective about his view of his father in the same way that death is objective about life: “The whiskey on your breath / Could make a small boy dizzy; But I hung on like death: Such waltzing was not easy” (Roethke & Snodgrass 1-4). The speaker realizes that finding objectivity is an arduous task as his father's ambiguous display of emotion leaves him confused. He comes to terms with how his perception of his father lacks the necessary objectivity of factual truth. The poem illustrates ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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