Mother To Son By Langston Hughes Meaning

Decent Essays
There is no mystery in “Mother to Son” as to who is speaking to whom. In fact, the title of the poem alone provides all of the exposition needed to understand that this piece is set up as a mother’s advice to her son. Presumably, this poem represents the advice that Langston Hughes may have received from his own mother. The imagery of a staircase opens up the work, which begins, “Well, son, I’ll tell you: / Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” (Hughes 1-2). Line two, in particular, immediately conjures several associations in the mind of the reader. First, many audiences will be familiar with the concept of a “stairway to heaven,” as such a proverbial structure is mentioned often through world history in works such as the Bible and other…show more content…
“It’s had tacks in it, / And splinters, / And boards torn up, / And places with no carpet on the floor – / Bare” (Hughes 3-7). Clearly, this woman’s life has been difficult. More than that, by using imagery of tacks, splinters, and torn up boards, the mother is telling her son that at times her life has been outright dangerous. It is no mistake that Hughes chooses to use images of objects that can easily do physical harm. Lines three through seven confirm that the mother’s life journey has been more than hard; indeed, it has been perilous. However, as the poem continues, mother tells son that she has always managed to advance in spite of the obstacles on her particular staircase. “But all the time / I’se been a-climbin’ on, / And reachin’ landin’s, / And turnin’ corners, / And sometimes goin’ in the dark / Where there ain’t been no light” (Hughes 8-13). During these lines, the tone of the poem slowly turns from hopeless to hopeful. True, the mother’s life has been dangerous a fraught with obstacles, and yet she has thus far overcome each one of her challenges. The phrases, “reachin’ landin’s” and “turnin’ corners” instill a sense of success in the mind of the reader, as both are common colloquial sayings that reflect a reprieve from hardship or a change for the better. Even through the darkness, still the mother climbs on. In other words, though she is at times unsure of her current position, she never loses sight of her
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