Struggles of African Americans in Langston Hughes’ Poems, Mother to Son and Lenox Avenue: Midnight

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Struggles of African Americans in Langston Hughes’ Poems, Mother to Son and Lenox Avenue: Midnight The experiences, lessons, and conditions of one’s life provide a wellspring of inspiration for one’s creative expressions and ideas. Throughout life people encounter situations and circumstances that consequently help to mold them into individualized spirits. An individual’s personality is a reflection of his or her life. Langston Hughes, a world-renowned African American poet and self-professed defender of African American heritage, boldly defies the stereotypical and accepted form of poetry at his own discretion. Although Langston Hughes is a successful African American poet, he, like many other Harlemites, faces obstacles…show more content…
Hughes creates a character, the mother, who survives and overcomes the obstacles that life has offered her. In the poem Hughes institutes harsh objects on the stairs in order convey the obstacles the mother has to overcome: Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair. It’s had tacks in it, And splinters, And boards torn up, And places with no carpet on the floor— Bare. (2-6) Unfortunately, the mother experiences tough times, which Hughes clearly conveys through his word choice. Hughes metaphorically compares life to a crystal stair, which the mother’s life has not been. By using the crystal stair comparison Hughes allows the reader to relate to the reality of the mother’s life. A crystal stair is imagined to be perfect, pleasant, and beautiful, thus representing a charmed life. However, in actuality, no life is without imperfection. Throughout the poem the mother insists for her son to persevere and continue climbing the staircase of life; the reader can sense desperation in the mother’s words. In the verse, “So boy, don’t you turn back,” Hughes reveals the anxious nature of the mother while also characterizing the son (Hughes 14). Consequently, the son is also perceived as climbing an obstacle-ridden staircase and struggling to continue on. Fortunately, the son has a hopeful mother to encourage him to

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