Part I: Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz”
Theodore Roethke’s poem is a reflection of his past relationship with a rambunctious father; though he was manhandled by a person he previously looked up to for guidance, he still loves and accepts his father for who he was. He states that his father beat time on his head, this is a sign of gratitude as it tells us that Roethke matured at an early age because of his father’s misgivings. Therefore, the poem is more of a beloved memory of exuberant horseplay, rather than a memory of child abuse at the hands of his father. The fact that Roethke chooses to use “My” Papa’s Waltz shows us that he accepts his carousing father for who he was.
Part II: “The Wrysons” by John Cheever
In this story, Irene Wryson’s dreams of the hydrogen bomb and the World War signifies the anxiety and distress she experiences in her life. She is depressed and does not want to get out of her comfort zone. It signifies how much she fears the reality of life, especially the idea of change. She does not share this dream with her husband because she thinks he might mock her for thinking her world would end. Donald, her husband, bakes cakes in the middle of the night and he is ashamed because he feels no one will understand his distress, nor how much he misses the security and stability he felt with his mother. Cheever uses the words “good appearance” as Irony since even after the burning of the cake and “cleaning the mess”, the appearance is bad. The overall message is that people cannot hide from reality, change is inevitable and it affects everyone, no matter how much one tries to avoid it, or hide the truth.
Part III: Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where are you going, where have you been?”
Carol Oates’ fictitious story differs from the non-fictitious version since the fictitious story focuses more on the victims than on the serial killer. Oates is amazed at Charles Schmid’s character; she does not understand how such a man could be able to seduce girls the way he did. Therefore, the Oates story focuses more on the victim, Connie, who represents the youthful needs of American teenagers. In Oates version, her serial killer character, Arnold Friend, has no record of killing previous girlfriends, nor an intention to kill Connie; her story focuses little on Arnold, and more on Connie. This is because, Oates seeks to portray the young teenage girls as naïve, shallow, and in need of eroticism. That is why she adds the aspect of Connie giving herself to Arnold in the end to “save” her family.