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Discuss Roethke, Eudora Welty, Irene Wryson, Essay Example

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Part I:

Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz” invites various meaning as to what the narrator is trying to communicate in terms of his relationship to his father: was this a positive or negative relationship? Arguably it is a combination of both, but siding in terms of the positive, as the narrator recounts dancing with his drunken father. Whereas the sources of alcoholism may be depression, one who drinks also knows that there are moments of in vino veritas and profound happiness when intoxicated: it is precisely the drunken father that is dancing with his son that seems to show this position against any moralistic “Dr. Phil” or “Oprah” readings about alcohol.

Part II:

Welty’s text narrates the transition from childhood to adulthood, in particular through the image of the family contrasted to Welty’s own thoughts of her love. Here, sexual love is contrasted with the love of the family relationship and it is arguably this break or transition from one type of love to another that marks for Welty the true transition from childhood to adulthood. It is the moment when one leaves one’s family for another that one stops being a child and becomes an adult: love is the condition of this shift. Hence, the symbolic meaning of symbols such as the family are really explicit representations of this transition: perhaps the tears at the end of the narrative are representative of the narrator’s understanding that she has lost this familial world forever, and it no longer holds any meaning for her, explicitly stated in her description of the nearby family: “the fat woman was standing…I felt a peak of horror, as though her breasts themselves had turned to sand, as though they were of no importance at all and she did not care.” (315)

Part III
According to psychoanalytic theory, dreams are representative of unconscious desires: in this case, Wryson’s dreams would follow this same pattern, since she does not share the same recurring dream with her husband. Namely, if she would share this dream with her husband it would no longer be her deep unconscious speaking, but a conscious sharing of their love. Cheever demonstrates through dreams the fragmentation of every family unit: on the exteriority, there is a homogeneity, but on the unconscious level, families live apart. This is not an indictment of the hypocrisy of the family, I would suggest, but rather shows how human beings live in different forms of relationships simultaneously.

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