Contrasting parenting styles in poems "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden and "My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke.

Essay by bittersweet01College, UndergraduateA+, January 2004

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Parenting is intended to guide children toward an independent adulthood. Morals and lessons are developed through discipline, imitation, and learned respect for oneself and society. Some parents show love and affection whereas others shape their children with respect and stern discipline. In the poems "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden and "My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke, a relationship between a father and son are portrayed as both authors reflect on their own childhood experiences. While the two poems have similarities; in that, the fathers work hard and believe in stern punishment, they also have several contrasting ideas in parenting that separate their respective roles as fathers.

In both poems, the fathers have worked hard to provide for their family. In "My Papa's Waltz", the father's daily labors were described with defined imagery: "With a palm caked Hard by dirt," (14). Hayden describes his father's hands of labor as, "[...]

cracked hands that ached / from labor in the weekday [...]" (3-4). In both occasions, the fathers have a physically demanding work that shapes their demeanor.

The sons on both occasions were reared in a time when strict parenting and stern punishment were accepted. Roethke recalls, "The hand that held my wrist / Was battered on one knuckle;" (9-10). This indicates that his father had great hold on his son's actions and that if severe punishment is needed it may involve physical repercussions. In "Those Winter Sundays", the forceful nature of rearing the son is also shown. Hayden describes the anguish by, "fearing the chronic angers of that house," (9). His father, as well, may have been demanding and have strict rules which children were thought to abide by.

While the fathers seem to have hard mannerisms, their level of interactions with their sons varies significantly. This represents their different...