In the poem "My Papa's Waltz," by Theodore Roethke, the speaker is talking about childhood experience that involved his father. After reading the poem, some people may think .
that it is nothing but child abuse going on while on the other hand ,other may people think that it is just a playful, loving relationship between a son and father. I believe that it is a case of a good relationship between a father and son because of the language and imagery that is depicted throughout the poem.
The reason why I believe that this is nothing but a playful relationship between the father and son is for example when Roethke says "My mother's countenance / Could not unfrown itself "(1l. 7-8) it basically means that if child was actually getting beat, Roethke's mother would have reacted more than with just a simple face expression on her face if she realized it was getting intense. Nonetheless did she know that they were just playing around like a normal father and son would do. Also throughout the poem Roethke quotes, " Still clinging to your shirt "(l.16) Here, Waltz is breathless because of all the playing around he is doing with his father, not because he is in misery or struggling to escape, he just doesn't want to go to bed and wants to continue to play with his father. As you can see the poem does not give out any abusive signs, it only shows a strong bond of love and playfulness between father and son.
By reading this poem, some people may think that abuse is occurring when Roethke starts off his poem with, "Whiskey on your breath / Could make a small boy dizzy " (l. 1-2) suggests the dance was not a fun or pleasant one. Also, "But I hung on like death ", (l. 3.) and "You beat time on my head " (l. 13) might even lead the reader to think the father is abusive to the Roethke, but in reality this poem is about a father who comes home drunk but happy to where he starts to dance with his son, Roethke.