Judith Ortiz Cofer's "My Father in the Navy: A Childhood Memory" and Theodore Rothke's "My Papa's Waltz" are poems which were written with a positive theme toward the father figure. The tone and imagery are different in each poem but the love and respect each speaker had for his/her father was evident in each poem.
Cofer and Rothke's poems depict fond childhood memories from each speaker. Both speakers describe their fathers as they return home from work. Cofer's speaker remembers her father returning home after his military duties required him to be away from home for long periods. She describes him as, "Stiff and immaculate in the white cloth of his uniform and a round cap on his head like a halo" (line 1-3). An angle in her eyes as he approaches her. Rothke's speaker recalls a similar home coming but from a different perspective. The speaker's father was a laborer, and after a hard day of work, he would arrive home after having a few drinks. The speaker describes his father's arrival "The whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy; but I hung on like death: such waltzing was not easy we romped until the pans slid from the kitchen shelf" .
(Lines 1-6). .
As you read both poems, it is evident that both fathers spend a lot of time at work. In Cofer's poem, his speaker portrays the father as a dedicated solider, strict in his ways and proud to serve his country. The speaker paints a picture of long awaited homecomings, which seem to be short lived as she explains, "His home comings were the verses we composed over the years making up the siren's song that kept him coming back" (lines 14-16). Cofer used words in his poem to establish a serious tone for the speaker. It made the reader imagine a serious moment rather than a happy moment for the child. Rothke's speaker described his father as a hard working labor who spent long hours away from the family working and arriving home late and intoxicated.