We have the hope that people will eventually see their wrongs and change, but do they ever truly change? Domestic abuse was never talked about in the early 1900s. That does not mean it was not a problem. In “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, the young boy is clearly being abused by his father.
Roethke states that “The whiskey on your breathe could make a small boy dizzy” (Roethke 1-2). This means that the father was an incredibly heavy drinker or alcoholic. It is very common for abusers to be alcoholics or possess a type of debilitating addiction. This is mentioned in the very first and second lines to show the importance that it has to the rest of the poem. It allows the reader to learn a lot of information about the father in just eleven words. With this information known, the rest of the poem is read with a different set of lens.
Next, the author states that he “hung on like death: Such waltzing was not easy” (Roethke 3-4). This insinuates that the waltzing was exceedingly aggressive and possibly dangerous for the small boy. The poem then takes the waltz into the kitchen with pans flying off the shelves. This further proves that the waltz was overly aggressive in particular towards a child. If it was anyone other than the father engaging in an act like this, the child would be fearing for his life. The single reason this poem is not read in a scared way is due to the child trusting the father. This trustworthiness should not be misconstrued as safety. After all, would a mother be sad if it was truly out of love and not abuse to the child?
In my personal experience battered knuckles are almost always from some type of violence or aggression. The father’s knuckle may have been battered from punching the son or something in the home during a fit of rage. This would be a serious form of mental and physical abuse to the small child. The line “At every step you missed my right ear scraped a buckle” can be interpreted in many different ways (Roethke...