My Papa's Waltz

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My Papa’s Waltz

The poem “My Papa’s Waltz” can easily be interpreted in two different ways. Before our class discussion, I was convinced that this was a somber poem that expressed a son’s love for his father, despite his father’s alcoholism and abusive ways. Although the poem states playful interactions between the father and son, the majority of the poem focuses on the father’s drunken aggression towards the boy. After discussing the poem in class, I realized, it is about a young boy, remembering a night with his father when they danced around the house aggressively. With this analysis, there is no intentional abuse on the father’s part, yet there is clear evidence of alcoholism, (“The whiskey on your breath”). Now I believe the poem is about that of my second interpretation, but both interpretations are satisfactory.

There is a wide amount of evidence that, “My Papa’s Waltz,” is the story a young boy revealing the trouble he has lived through with his alcoholic father, while still possessing a great love for his dad. The boy would then be the narrator of “My Papa’s Waltz” and thus the son of an alcoholic father. It is easy to focus on the physical abuse, and anger the father has, which was targeted at the boy. In the first line of the poem, the son is speaking to his dad and says, “The whiskey on your breath/could make a small boy dizzy.” The son is telling his father, that his drinking is a problem, and the boy is worried. In the next line, he says, “But I held on like death: such waltzing was not easy.” Apparently, the thoughts here are aiming towards abuse. The son is telling his father, that he struggled to survive (mentally and physically) in the home, but did everything he could to try and survive and rise above the problem. The pain that comes through in this sentence is subtle, yet intense.…...

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