Comparing My Papa's Waltz And Life With Father

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In Walter McDonald’s “Life with Father” and Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz,” the poets give insight into a dysfunctional childhood surrounded by alcoholism, which leaves a lasting impression on the children. The poets use dissimilar figurative language and expressive sound devices to evoke contrasting fearful tones; McDonald fears his father and Roethke fears losing his. The extensive and diverse use of figurative language in McDonald and Roethke’s poems captures the essence of growing up with an alcoholic father from two different perspectives. “Life with Father” commences with McDonald picturing his Sunday mornings as a kid, which meant, “time to pull another quilt/and hide from whiskey/in our daddy’s snoring” (2-4). The sensory imagery…show more content…
McDonald consistently uses onomatopoeias to develop his environment and the fear he associates with his father. The poet reveals the father’s drunkenness; leading McDonald to explain his comics he whimsically refers to as the “Sunday funnies”, which saved him from “last night’s raving”(5-6). The onomatopoeia hints at a loud, inappropriate situation the boy experienced, which led to his dad’s current state of inebriation. The poem escalates as the boy and his siblings try to perform their chores and “crept softly” around to avoid disturbing their father (15). This onomatopoeia provides the imagery of the boy moving with caution and the anxiety that the boy holds on a daily basis. McDonald describes his father’s snoring as a soothing “fi- foe-fum”(18). The diction shows how the boy finds comfort knowing that his father is sleeping. Additionally, the famous onomatopoeia “fi-foe-fum” found in the classic child’s storybook, Jack and the Beanstalk, infers that the father is like the antagonistic character, the giant. However, Roethke’s poem “My Papa’s Waltz” unlike McDonald, uses a diverse range of sound devices that conveys a painful yet loving memory of his dad. Roethke structures his poem in an ABAB rhyme scheme in order to connect his ideas, which allows the poem to flow. Occasionally slant rhyming is used, which mirrors the drunkenness that the father displays and the dissonance in their relationship. Furthermore, the poem is displayed in iambic trimeter giving the poem a beat of three just like in the waltz. Extra syllables are scattered through out the poem to parallel the boy’s discomfort in his current

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