Read “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke and Respond to Questions

After reading “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, respond to the following questions.


For “My Papa’s Waltz:” Roethke intentionally made the poem ambiguous as to interpretation—that this is a picture of an abusive father hurting his son or that, despite the father’s drunken recklessness, he is simply playing with his son and the son, accepting his shortcomings, is cherishing what little time he has with him. What imagery and/or language within the poem elicits these two possible interpretations? *Please note that Roethke did not intend for it to be solely interpreted as a drunken abusive father, but instead he wanted to highlight the complexity of the relationship.


This is the text Book A Portable Anthology, 4th edition compiled by Gardner, Lawn, Ridl, and Schakel (ISBN: 978-1-319-03534-1) My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, p. 532.

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