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 revisit their childhoods with alcoholic fathers. Through vivid imagery and metaphors, the poets create nearly inverted images- McDonald’s light-hearted terror and Roethke’s fearful joy- in remembering their fathers. McDonald and Roethke use imagery to describe scenes from their childhood in ways that evoke sympathy in readers. In the opening lines of “Life with Father”, McDonald’s first striking image is of him and his sibling on Sunday mornings. “Time to pull another quilt / and hide from / whiskey in our daddy’s snoring” (2-4). This immediately gives some knowledge on his situation. Another image McDonald creates to stimulate sympathy for the fear they had of their father is shown in lines 14-16. “We folded the…show more content…
On the other hand Roethke uses imagery to show that although his father was an alcoholic, he was very fond of him. “But I hung on like death” (3) illustrates the young boy clinging onto his father in fear of falling during their “waltz”. Next he adds, “My mother’s countenance / could not unfrown itself” (6-7). This key image that Roethke includes of his mother’s facial expression further explains how often his father came home drunk. His description of his mother’s facial expression makes a reader feel pity toward the writer because he, just like McDonald, was placed in a situation beyond his control at such a tender age. It was not something a child should have to experience. Roethke includes essential images to his poem as a whole in lines 8-9, “The hand that held my wrist / was battered on one knuckle” and “with a palm cakes hard by dirt” (13). These are important pieces in his writing because they give insight to who his father was. One can infer that his father was a

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