Mother to Son
BY LANGSTON HUGHES
The poem “Mother to Son” written by Langston Hughes reads as a mother guiding her son on the struggles of life. The poem is about a mother telling her son how tough her life has been and that he should not give up but persevere. Given the time is which Langston Hughes wrote the poem, the poem actually eludes to much more.
Langston Hughes was an author that became popular during the 1920‘s. He was part of the Harlem Renissance, a cultural movement that began after the end of slavery as African Americans began to join in social and cultural changes in the early 20th century. (Rueban) The vernacular that is used in the poem reveals that the woman is using language that is not grammatically correct. Instead of saying climbing, the author says “a climbin” (9). He also uses “ain’t been” (2) instead of “has not been” and “kinder”(16) in place of “kind of”. This is important to the poem because the author is telling us something about the speaker. This language was common among African Americans in the South.
The figurative language used in this poem is the metaphor of the “crystal stair”(2) as being not like her life. “Crystal” (2) eludes to something fancy. She descibes her life as having obstacles such as “splinters”(4) ,“boards torn up”(5) indicating hurdles and ”bare”(7) meaning cold and hard. The verses follow with no particular cadence but in a free verse form. But why would the author choose a staircase as opposed to a road or path? This has to do with the location and time that the poem is referencing. Christianity was important is the African-American pre civil war south. (loc.gov) The Bible tells a sory in Genesis 28 often referred to as Jacob’s Ladder- a story of salvation. (Zarada) The authors use of “climbin’’ (9) is like how you have to climb a ladder. It would not be a long shot to infer that the author was not speaking to just one man, but to all African Americans, and that the mother in the poem may have...