In Langston Hughes poem, Mother to Son, Hughes illustrates a strong-willed mother who reminds her son of her failures and how her failures have not stopped her- but instead helped her to continue striving. The mother continues by telling him about how her life has been difficult, telling him “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair,” however she explains that those obstacles are not only bearable, but are also worth struggling against. Langston Hughes uses elements such as; dramatic monologue, diction, and imagery to portray the life of a woman who overcame adversity.
The poem’s use of the dramatic monologue places the reader in the child's position, listening to his mother speak of her lessons learned and applying them to his own life. This causes the reader to become more drawn into the poem, as the womans advice is directed to us along with the sons irritation is our own. When the mother says “ Well, son, I’ll tell you:”(1) this gives off ...view middle of the document...
A crystal stair often makes you think of something perfect, smooth, and evidently clear. The mother explains to her son that her life has been the complete opposite of a crystal staircase. When she says “ It’s had tacks in it, and splinters, and boards torn up, and places with no carpet on the floor-Bare”(3-7) meaning her life has been hard, painful, it has had many rough patches and when she says “places with no carpet on the floor”(6) she is really trying to say that her poverty caused her to live somewhere with practically nothing. The speaker creates imagery that contrasts the perfect “crystal stair”.
Further, the Mother’s accent shows that she was not well-educated when she was younger, for example when she says “I'se been a-climbin' on” (line 9) which is not considered proper English. Since she most likely did not have a strong education growing up, she probably did not have many opportunities in life, and may have been stuck in a cycle of poverty. Langston Hughes, often writes from an African American perspective to reveal the struggles and also achievements of African Americans during the early 1900’s.
Langston Hughes successfully portrays the struggles that African Americans have experienced throughout the generation. They had little to no hope, they did not have any advantages that would help them excel such as; education, jobs, money, or even freedom to be themselves. It is evident that life for African Americans was no “crystal stair”. Hughes explores the mentality of those who have wanted to give up but did not. The moral behind “Mother to son” teaches us that no matter the rough times we encounter, giving up should never be an option. The speaker in this poem explains to her son that if she was able to continue moving forward despite her painful, dark, poor, and hopeless life than he should be able to keep his mind focused on the top of the stairs. “Mother to son” is a great way to help keep others motivated because though life may seem tough with splinters, tacks, boards torn up and no carpets on the floor, one must keep climbing, reaching landings and turning corners. It helps us remember that “life ain’t been no crystal stair”.