Mother To Son Analysis

Submitted By zhatch123
Words: 2772
Pages: 12

1. Langston Hughes’ poem, Mother to Son, is a poem that speaks directly as it is entitled. A mother advises her son the adversities he will face in his lifetime. She speaks on her behalf of personal experiences on how to overcome obstacles he will face in life. The theme that I get from this poem is perseverance. She really pushes the point that no matter what life throws at you; you must be stronger and withstand the battles. Langston Hughes was an African American poet, in which you can tell the dialogue is black dialect. Now that I’ve given a little background on the poem, I’ll explicate the poem line by line.
The title right away tells me that it will be about a mother talking to her son about life. It makes me think of a strong family bond that they may have. A mother’s words to her son are very firm, strong ideas. It gives me a sense the family may be very strongly religious. Hughes’ makes the title to this poem seem very revealing to what it may be about compared to titles of other poems. This poem’s title is particular in a sense that it gives all context clues to what the poem will be about. We know the characters already and we know the content, for the most part. It starts off by saying “Well, son, I’ll tell you: life for me ain’t been no crystal hair.” Right away the author lets us into her personality. We see that her life hasn’t been easy. The word “ain’t indicates to me that the mother isn’t a well-taught person. By the way she starts off by saying “well son” it may seem as the boy is curious about something that he had asked her about. The term “crystal hair” reminds me of something that has to do with religion. When I did some research on the term, it was often used to describe procession from earth to heaven. This tells me that she may have a religious background since she refers to that phrase. The next lines gets more into detail about the rough patches the mother has faced in her life. “It had tacks in it, and splinters, and boards torn up, and places with no carpet on the floor – bare.” I find the nouns the author used to describe her life in this line to be very fascinating and particular. She describes her life with such harsh terms like tacks, splinters, and boards torn up. Her social speaking with her son also may indicate she is near the bottom of sociality in life. You don’t hear many well-rounded, educated people speaking those kind of terms to explain their life. Splinters make it hard to move so this may be a reference to her life being tough to keep moving forward with the adversities she faced. When I think of boards being torn up I think of it as something being revealed that’s been hidden. It also makes me think its being torn to be replaced with something new. The mother uses these phrases to show that her past has been rough as well. Symbols like “tacks” is used to illustrate the sharpness and discomfort of life’s obstacle. Splinters represent the inflammatory pain and the difficulties in removing and overcoming this pain in life. Even the metaphor of life being compared to stairs symbolizes the exhaustive uphill climb in life. In contrast, the crystal stair represents clarity and perfection, a life that the mother makes obvious was not given to her. In this poem, Hughes develops a sort of negative extended metaphor by having the speaker compare her life to a staircase that “ain’t been no crystal clear”. In other words, she develops the metaphor by describing what it isn’t rather than what it is. The next part of the poem I would like to break the stanza into two different segments. “But all the time I’se been a-climbin’ on, and reachin’ landin’s, and turnin’ corners.” Here we see the use of poor grammar again by the mother. She may have not had many opportunities growing up and went through poverty her whole life. This part of the poem really makes me think of how different cultures communicate and correspond with one another. Most Caucasian people wouldn’t speak this way. When you