My Papas Waltz Term Paper

This essay has a total of 568 words and 3 pages.

My Papas Waltz

Rik Wyatt
English 1102 B
6 Oct. 2003
Revealing Child Abuse in "My Papa's Waltz"
In Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz," the persona reveals an incidence of child abuse
that happened earlier in his life. He divulges the occurrence of abuse through the use of
certain words and noting the actions that go on during the "waltz." Through the use of
graphic diction, Roethke informs the reader that "My Papa's Waltz" depicts an episode of
child abuse.

The persona Roethke creates discloses the incidence of child abuse to the reader by using
particular words in his poem. The persona says "I hung on like death: / such waltzing was
not easy" to show he is being beaten badly but is still alive (Roethke 3,4). He also uses
the phrase "battered on one knuckle" to describe his father's knuckles (10). The persona
chooses the word "battered" in the phrase to describe his father's knuckles because it
creates a realistic visual image of the beating. When a person is battering another
person, his knuckles often become bruised. When the speaker's father misses steps, his
son's "right ear [scrapes] a buckle," which shows that the father is projecting his
frustration with himself onto his son (12); the father therefore punishes his son for his
own incompetence. Either the father is inebriated from the whiskey and getting mad when he
skips steps in the waltz with his son, or whenever the persona dodges one of his father's
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