Mother to Son Essay

Submitted By sarah_k_w
Words: 423
Pages: 2

Sarah Wannenburg
Mrs. Pearsall
American Literature
17 March 2014
Mother to Son The poem Mother to Son by Langston Hughes is a lesson for all because it is inspiration to keep moving forward despite everything that makes us want to give up. Originally the poem was most likely intended to be read by the oppressed African American community in which Langston Hughes lived, but as equality has grown widespread, the poem’s meaning can be advice for anyone, no matter their race. The southern-sounding dialect that the poem is written in allows the reader to skip formalities and be immediately submersed in the stern yet concerned tone of motherly advice. The mother says, “I’se been a-climbin’ on,/ And reachin’ landin’s,/ And turnin’ corners”(9-11), and one already has the feeling of familiarity that would come with listening to one’s mother speak. The imagery in the lines “It’s had tacks in it,/ And splinters,/ And boards torn up,/ And places with no carpet on the floor--/ Bare.” (3-7) allows the reader to picture a flight of worn down, beat up stairs which is then related to the mother’s life. This causes the reader to feel the mother’s pain and struggle that she had endured throughout her lifetime. The poem’s turn at line eight is extremely effective because the memory of the mother’s struggle is still fresh in the reader’s mind when the poem’s tone changes from despair to perseverance. While telling her son to push through the worst of times, the poem begins to sound like a “negro spiritual”. Usually “negro spirituals” talk about looking past one’s oppressed state and