“My Papa's Waltz” Analysis Questions

My Papa's Waltz
by Theodore Roethke
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;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.
The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.
You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.
Answer on your own paper.
“My Papa’s Waltz” Analysis Questions
From a close reading of this poem, you should be able to answer these questions and support
your answer using evidence from the poem. Look back through the poem carefully and answer
the following questions in complete, well-crafted, thoughtful sentences.
1. What is the general attitude of the speaker toward his father?
2. What specific words and literary techniques does the author use to create this attitude?
3. What images are created to reinforce the child’s view of his father and this dance?
4. Why do you think the speaker, as an adult, reflects on this moment and commits it to
paper? What is the speaker hoping to gain for himself by doing so? What will the reader
gain by reading it?
5. What do you think the author is saying about family relationships?