Ins and Outs of Power
Poe, Roethke, and Yamada all write about different types of power, good in bad, in their pieces, “The Cast of Amontillado,” “My Papa’s Waltz,” and “Cincinnati.” In the short story, “The Cast of Amontillado,” Poe writes about 2 acquaintances, Montresor and Fortunato, and the way that one comes to create power over the other. Montresor has a plan to get rid of Fortunato which is foreshadowed through the story. This is the way that he plans to gain the power, by simply getting rid of him. While this sounds like a great idea and the plan even works, when Montresor realizes what he has done and what has happened, he notices that it is not really what he even wanted or what he should have done which is displayed as he cries out for Fortunato when he can no longer hear his struggling voice. This story really demonstrates how a person can have such a need and drive for this power but still realize the evil and bad in it when it is all over.
“My Papa’s Waltz,” is a poem that shows power very clearly. Roethke starts off with a drunk father coming home to his family. Then he takes his son and beings to dance him around the kitchen as his wife watches. This alone is enough to demonstrate power to me. But then, the father continues to dance the boy all the way to bed to put him to sleep, which shows a further assertion of power. The way the father leads the boy shows the level of power that the father has over the boy because even though the father is not in the right state of mind, he is still leading the dancing. He is creating the path that they will follow and it is done by the boy because that is his parent and he will do as instructed. There is also a sense of power shown through the wife. She just stands there and watches them as they dance around and there is nothing that she can really do to intervene in the dancing and the mess that is being made in the kitchen because she has no power over the situation. This poem demonstrates how strong a position of power can be because it really shows that people have to do as you say or lead, which is portrayed through the father leading the boy in dance and to bed.
Yamada writes about her new found freedom in “Cincinnati.” Yamada was put into a camp with her family after her father had been arrested and once she was set free from the camp, she finally got her own freedom in this new city that she could have be her own. Previously she has not been in control but now that she is in this city, she has full power over herself and that is something extremely large that she receives. This poem shows the effects that power can have on a person and how free they can be when they get it for themselves.
Power is very present and visible to me through my service learning. I do my service at Tunbridge in a first grade classroom. In this classroom, the teacher has a tremendous amount of power over the children and it really shows. Of course, in any class a teacher will have more control, but I feel that in my class, the kids take it very seriously. When the teacher sounds her harmonica, the students instantly quiet to hear directions. They know their place and if they step out of it, they know the consequences. I think this related to the readings and especially, “My Papa’s Waltz,” mostly because of the adult and child relationship, but also because the children in the class may not want to be under all of the power of the teach, just as the son may not have wanted to be lead in dance by his father, but each time, the child does it because they know it is their place. This is not to say that the children do not have power among themselves. They do. And it is very clear especially when we go out for recess because there is always one kid who will step up and say what game they are playing and who will be “it” in tag. In these situations, that kid acts as the adult with the power when there is no adult present. It is extremely interesting to see how there roles of power play out in different situations in all the readings as well as real life through service.