Analyzing themes and literary devices in My Papa’s Waltz

Some readers can easily form their negative opinion after reading My Papa’s Waltz, the poem written by Theodore Roethke. After paying attention to specific words in it, it becomes clear why this reaction is often evoked in the audience. Make your further analysis and use critical thinking skills. This simple step will let you understand its true meaning.

The first line is quite descriptive to create a certain image of a drunken man in the minds of most readers. Further words also illustrate his intoxication. It’s not good for intoxicated adults to be close to children. That’s why some people interpret this poem as a vivid depiction of an experience of a child being abuse by his father.

It may seem that he feels terrible, but the author paints a picture of the child and his father dancing and waltzing around their house. He uses words to highlight his helplessness against his father. The action of dancing with a drunken father seems to be inappropriate and it causes some disruption, and the mother wasn’t happy with that. She disapproves this situation because her child can be hurt. There are some lines used by the author to hint an abuse.

However, there’s another angle of reading this poem and it reveals a different point of view that should be considered. It suggests that it’s all about a dance that evokes memories. This poem is the child’s memory of his hardworking father. Readers end up thinking that the child has a lot of fun with this father, and they don’t agree that he’s abused or terrified. This group of readers claims that the poem describes a bonding and positive experience between the child and his father, so there’s no negativity in it.

The poem uses a specific winning tone, but it’s almost comical and light, and its constant rhythm endows it with a beat, similar to a waltz. It proves that the kid is fond of the father. Although the story starts in a serious manner, it switches into a playful tone, thus reinforcing the father’s care of his child. He also values his father and his hard work for providing for the needs of all family members. There’s a loving bond between them.

The poem and its simplicity produce different reactions in readers. Some of them interpret it with negative implications, while others have the positive ones, and everything depends on personal views and perceptions. A personal judgment of this poem mostly depends on cultural, psychological, and social backgrounds and life experiences.

What does the boy need? He needs this experience from his father and he sees not only a responsible, matured, and strong nature, but also other important traits. This experience is quite joyful for all kinds to see their fathers in a playful and light mood, even when they have alcohol in their system. Well, the poem doesn’t state anything negative. It doesn’t stay that the kid is beaten or physically hurt by his father, but it still evokes negative emotions in readers. Others claim that it’s just a free form of dance with no harm. It’s good for all kinds to see their fathers in their sweet and funny mood, as this is what brings them closer to each other.