What Is The Theme Of The Poem, "My Papa's Waltz"?


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Robin Burden Profile
Robin Burden answered
There are several topics that the poem My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Roethke touches on. It mentions family, a son's relationship with his father, manhood, and the power struggle within a home.

What are the themes of, 'My Papa's Waltz'?
Roethke explores several interesting themes in his poem My Papa's Waltz. The poem centers around a young boy who's dancing with his father.

It's suggested that the boy's father is drunk, and references to the 'scrapes on his knuckles' and the mention of his belt would suggest he is occasionally a violent man, too.

Nevertheless, the boy 'clings to his father's shirt' in the poem - a symbol of how the boy idolizes and adores his father.

The poem focuses on this relationship, and the scene is presented in a reminiscent tone - as if the boy has now grown up and is looking back fondly.

The poem also mentions the mother's disapproving frown - which is a reference to the different dynamics at play within this family scene.

Considering that the opening line is, 'The whiskey on your breath', I think it's fair to say that alcohol - and the effect that it has on a family - is one of the most notable themes of the poem.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
The theme seems to be a man's memory of the disturbing relationship with his father, and how it has affected his life.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
The theme of this poem, in my view, is about a young boy dancing with his drunken father and him being the least bit gentle with the boy.

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