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LITR221 - Essay 3
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Roethke used the setting in “My Papa’s Waltz” to describe what what times were like when the poem was written. Constructed in the 1940’s, it is clear that American families were without television, but may have used a radio, which explains the title, “My Papa’s Waltz.” There is a possibility that a radio was playing when the father and son waltzed around the making the mother unhappy. In the second stanza, it is clear that the father and son were actually doing a little more than waltzing because they were knocking pots and pans down from the kitchen shelf. Roethke said, “We romped until the pans/Slid from the kitchen shelf/My mother’s countenance/Could not unfrown itself,” (5-8). The setting plays an important role in the overall meaning of the poem because of World War II and the affects it had on families across the country. Many families were survivors of the Great Depression and WWII which is where the setting of the poem took place. 

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