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An Analysis of "Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes

Often times, many individuals encounter problems in their lives and need advice and inspiration in order to maintain a sense of optimism. By utilizing copious amounts of figurative language, Langston Hughes's poem, "Mother to Son," illustrates the theme that regardless of the struggles individuals may encounter in their lives, he or she should possess the willpower and strength to live resiliently and persevere through adversities with dignity and courage. The speakers didactic tone further compliments the theme, as the mother in the poem is teaching her son a vital message that he must understand and fully integrate into his mindset if he wants to be successful.

In the first stanza, the speaker is reflecting on her life and the difficulties that she encountered in her lifetime. Discussing how her life "ain't been no crystal stair exemplifies how she experienced stressful situations in order to reach a comfortable place in her own skin, as the crystal stair represents an unproblematic and straightforward path to affluence. The word "crystal" is particularly used to allow the audience to visualize the lavishness of this path. She contrasts this path with the coarse one she undertook, which included a myriad of obstacles such as the tacks and splinters she mentions that she had to overcome. Words like "tacks" and "splinters" are usually given a negative connotation. Additionally, the carpet on the floor represents protection from these obstacles, since carpet is soft and provides individuals with comfort. Unfortunately, she was deprived of this luxury, and had to face them bare with no comfort whatsoever. Also, based on the time period in which the poem was written, it can be assumed that she experienced racial discrimination which further contributed to her hardships. This creates the image of woman in a cold, unfamiliar world, and depicts the isolation she must have felt, as well as the misfortune that plagued her life.

While the first stanza evokes a sympathetic mood in the audience, the second stanza is inspiring, as it describes how she managed to avoid succumbing to her predicaments and overcame her adversities without such luxuries. The shift begins with the line But all the time. Despite the unpleasant path she traveled, she kept climbin on, and turnin corners, an indication of how she liberated herself from her struggles. Reachin landins symbolizes her accomplishments and triumphs, while turnin corners symbolizes how she had to view certain situations from different perspectives in order to reach her landings. Moreover, the line sometimes goin in the dark where there aint been no light, illustrates the valor she possessed when she had to deal with new situations that she was not accustomed to.

By explaining her first-hand experiences, she is able to spread her knowledge to her son in order to lead him down a path of success, and allow him to efficiently prevail over his own hardships. The lines so boy, dont you turn back and dont you sit down on the steps, serve the purpose to

motivate him, and indeed, the audience, to remain optimistic. If another challenge comes ones way, and the individual is sitting down on steps feeling defeated and inadequate, he or she will be unprepared to handle it, and will feel even more defeated and inadequate then they already feel. Standing up, facing challenges head-on, and never running away, are the only methods to achieve victory. Ultimately, individuals should never falter in the face of danger. The speaker Ise still climbin despite the fact that her life aint been no crystal stair. She is living proof that people can prosper even if the odds are against them. Her determination is her own special luxury that she uses as a shield. By Langston Hughes writing this poem from a mothers point of view, especially a black womans, he is relaying this powerful message to the audience and despite facing hardships such as discrimination, situations will gradually improve. Hopefully, the message will continue to be passed on.