Each response must be 150 words and respond as if you were me.
Part One: Several of our works this week portray significant or complex relationships between characters. Choose one that stood out to you as particularly moving or engaging. Describe the relationship and explain its personal resonance with you.
The literary work that resonated with me was Theodore Roethke’s poem “My Papa’s Waltz”. What stood out to me was the simultaneous love and abuse from a parent and the unconditional love of a child. The poem starts with “The whiskey on your breath Could make a small boy dizzy” (Line 1-2). Right from the start we can deduce that the father is either a heavy drinker or an alcoholic. The boy hung onto his dad “like death”. The figurative language using death, which doesn’t go away, could mean that the boy hung on tight. Roethke goes on to write “The hand that held my wrist was battered on one knuckle” (9-10). One can assume that the whiskey along with the bruised knuckle implies battering of someone. The father beat time on his head and danced his son off to bed with the boy clinging to him. The relationship between father and son appears unhealthy and abusive by the mention of the whiskey, the sloppy dancing, the battered knuckle, dad keeping the beat on the boy’s head, and the boy clinging to dad. This story resonated with me because I had a verbally abusive mother, who despite all the abuse, I still looked to her for approval and love, unconditionally. Time after time I would go back to her and listen to her abuse and did not know how to escape. I understand the need to cling to a parent no matter how you are treated.
Part Two: Research one of this week’s authors and tell us what about his or her biography struck you as being reflective of issues in the work. Be sure to cite all biographical information you report.
The author I chose this week is Theodore Roethke. Our lesson this week states “Roethke was born in 1908 in Saginaw, Michigan. His father was a German immigrant who owned a 25-acre greenhouse” (Postmodernism). Conarroe writes, “During the boy’s fourteenth year, his authoritarian father, Otto, died of cancer, and this loss, coupled with the earlier suicide of his uncle (recently estranged from Otto), left him with feelings of guilt and abandonment that were to haunt him throughout his life” (5). Roethke’s poems frequently feature a father figure in them. Allan Seager was a close friend of Roethke’s and wrote a biography about him. Seager writes “Ted seems to have remembered his father as a stern, short tempered man whose love he doubted…Ted felt compelled somehow to write about his father (26). His poem” My Papa’s Waltz” is reflective of his life and relationship with his father. There was dysfunction in their relationship and probable alcoholism and misunderstandings. The pain in the poem, coupled with longing for a father matches the despair that Roethke experienced after losing his dad.
Conarroe, Joel, ed. Eight American Poets: Theodore Roethke, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, James Merrill: an Anthology. Vintage, 1997. Accessed on 4 February 2019. books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=tmE9DwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=theodore+roethke+biography&ots=suuvO38P25&sig=dG6H4NGOf_XDoUJsX1LhSpDi3S8#v=onepage&q=theodore%20roethke%20biography&f=false
Postmodernism. Literature 221 Week 6. Accessed 4 February 2019. edge.apus.edu/access/content/group/arts-and-humanities-common/Universal/LITR/LITR221-OER/lesson-6/elf_index.html
Seager, Allan. The Glass House: The Life of Theodore Roethke. University of Michigan Press, 1991. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=OdrIchCSEAYC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=life+of+theodore+roethke&ots=GM1fZMDFWF&sig=X2fudhqN3yJCs49HgvybNRI3T9M#v=onepage&q=life%20of%20theodore%20roethke&f=false
Part Three: Post-modern work is sometimes ambiguous. In O’Brien’s story we meet a soldier who goes AWOL- he leaves his post and a squad of men is sent to find him. How do you think this story ends based on what you see in this short excerpt? What clues can you tease out of the chapter to give an indication of where this story might be headed?
O’Brien’s work focuses on Cacciato before he becomes AWOL. Therefore, you are tasked with ‘guessing’ about what happens next after reading this short section. If you prefer, you can focus on why Cacciato says this at the end of the story: “You will. You got a terrific sense of humor”
I think that the story ends with the soldiers finding Cacciato. I think that Berlin is imagining all of his conversations with Cacciato. For example: “Giggling, lying now on his back, Paul Berlin saw the moon move. Or was it the moon? …Or the round-faced boy who leaned over him, pressing down on his chest, forcing out the giggles” (217). Berlin seems to be struggling with reality. It makes me question what fact is and what is fantasy in Chapter 31. It is hard to discern what is real. O’Brien goes back and forth with Berlin pretending to speak to his dad, speaking to Cacciato, and present time activities. I know Cacciato is real because the soldiers are looking for him. If all of the soldiers were not looking for him, I would think that Berlin was mentally unstable. I think the last line is foretelling that Berlin will find him. “You will. You got a terrific sense of humor” says O’Brien.
I will guess at what happens next with Cacciato. I think that they find Cacciato in a casino in Paris. His repetitive reference to Black Jack is a foreshadowing to his escape and what he could be doing. Berlin has demonstrated laughter as a means of decreasing stress levels. At the end of Chapter 31, the imaginary Cacciato is reassuring Berlin by saying “it’s ok, it’s ok”. Lastly, he says “You will. You got a terrific sense of humor” knowingly.
O’Brien, Tim. Going After Cacciato. Broadway Books New York, 1978. Accessed on 11 February 2019. apus.intelluslearning.com/v3/course-widget/199/#/document/109495155/1/51649a20ba8608207bb681a4e069e2be/0539fa050193d7d5714cf9cda03e5225/browse_published_content/2282/57868/18229/5/lesson/lesson?hideClose=true&tagId=27137&external_course_id=397329&external_course_name=LITR221%20B004%20Win%2019
One of the stories that we have read that was more engaging to me would have to be “Paul’s Case”. I don’t necessarily have a personal connection to this story, but I do feel this relationship between father v. son and Paul v. everyone is seen more today than it has ever before. Paul has a lot of mental instability going on between himself and it seems to set him off in the end, which concludes to him jumping in front of a train. His father just wants him to be a “normal” man and to settle down with a family without getting into too much trouble. Paul lies about what he does and basically who he is to impress others around him as well as trying to impress himself. He has trouble with money and spends more than he should. I just think this story is a particularly cool one where you see a man trying to convince others of his double life and his strained relationship with his family.
When I was reading, “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, I wanted to dig a bit on this author and see if there was anything that stuck out. Theodore Roethke suffered from abandonment and loss, as he lost both his father and uncle when he was only 14. In “My Papa’s Waltz” can go in two directions, in my opinion. This can be a poem about a happy family dancing around and just doing fun things around the house. On the other hand, this can be a poem about alcohol abuse and the mother in the story just being tired and annoyed at the father being drunk and practically throwing their son around. Theodore Roethke uses some of his works in descriptions from reflections of his childhood.
Based on the short excerpt we were given Paul Berlin is going crazy in his head. He seems to be muttering conversations with himself and can’t seem to figure out what is real and what isn’t. The fact that he never really gets a good look at “Cacciato”, makes me to believe everything is happening in his head and reality is slowly slipping away from him. I guess what really points me to this being a sense of reality slipping away is the weird conversations that Paul is having with this so called boy. Just a lot of non-sense and rambling. I would like to think that Paul Berlin does eventually get caught and mostly because of his slipping into more fantasy than real life. If what I think is true and this is in his head, I don’t think he has the mindset to figure his way out and away from the war going on.
Southern Illinois University. “Theodore Roethke’s Life and Career.” Modern American Poetry, Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University, 1991, www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/m_r/roethke/bio.htm.
Joyce carol oates’ story “where are you going, where have you been” made me feel for others that have found no one to turn to. He did not want to tell anybody about how he had been victimized. Many people would feel embarrassed about things that happened to them especially males with an ego. Going through something like this will stick with you forever. It reminds me of some of the sexual harassment or assault cases in the news. Many of the people do not feel comfortable putting themselves in the spotlight not knowing what the end state might be or if it will ruin their personal or professional lives.
Author Tim O’Brien was drafted into the army after completing college. I thought that was interesting because I know many of those in college were looked over during the draft. It must have been horrible to get drafted after the fact. In Vietnam O’brien was awarded the Purple Heart and also earned a graduate degree once he returned home. O’brien authored “If I die in a combat zone: box me up and ship me home”, and “the things they carried”, both focusing on the struggles of those in the service.
At the end of Oates’ story Connie is most likely murdered. This is based off of the “I’ll hold you so tight you won’t have to try to get away or pretend anything because you’ll know you can’t” (Oates 252). Connie had obviously been stalked due to the amount of information that was known.
I chose to use “My Papa’s Waltz” for this section of the forum. This poem seems to me like it is about a father who comes home and is quite drunk on Whiskey. He finds his son, grabs him, and they start going around the kitchen. The boy holds on because it is difficult to move smoothly with someone who is drunk. The father seems like he was just dragging his kid around, having a good time in his mind, but he could not see that it was frightening his son, even as he is beating on his head. This was relatable to some extent because I know people who have been in relationships and have dealt the person they love being drunk. They have vowed not to be involved again with someone who was a drinker because it turned them into someone who they did not know. It was a good time for him, however, he did not see that everyone else around him was uncomfortable with the situation.
I chose to write about Theodore Roethke. In his poem that we read this week, “My Papa’s Waltz”, there are many similarities between his life and his poem. I believe that this poem was actually written based on his and his father’s relationship. Roethke’s father and uncle owned a greenhouse, which is where he spent a lot of his childhood. This came out in his poetry and a book that he wrote. He lost his father at a young age, due to cancer. This probably shaped his poetry as well, due to the tragic loss at such a young age. It is also another reason why he may use the memories of his childhood in a lot of his work. In his book, “The Lost Son”, he brings the greenhouse into the text, as well as his feelings about his father. He uses his childhood memories to create his poetry.
I decided to write about why Cacciato says “You will. You got a terrific sense of humor” at the end.
Based on this short excerpt, Paul Berlin is someone who has become a friend to Cacciato. He says he cannot tell the difference between the soldiers because it is so dark. He does not want to become one of them, but do his job and hopefully, one day return home to his father and share his experiences. Paul Berlin was so scared of being in the war and he found someone he could talk with. As they are talking, they discuss one soldier, Billy boy Watkins and how he died. Cacciato tells Paul Berlin the story, and he eventually finds the humor in it. Billy died of a heart attack. I think the reason that it was funny to Berlin was that they were in a war and he sustained an injury that would allow him to be sent home, however, the started freaking out about it and he ended up having a heart attack. This wound was known as a “million dollar injury”, so it was not fatal, but it was enough to allow him to leave the war and go home. Berlin was able to keep himself from falling into the dark pit of despair that was war. This made Berlin laugh, and find the humor in war. I think this is why Cacciato says what he does at the end.