“Mother to Son,” written by Langston Hughes, is a short poem about a mother who is teaching her son about perseverance and determination by using the image of a staircase. She explains that even though life has given her many hardships, she continues forward and she urges her son to do the same. In “Mother to Son,” Langston Hughes uses an extended metaphor, imagery, dialect, and structure to paint a picture of a weary mother who wants her son to persevere through the hardships of life.
The theme of this poem is determination and the value of experience. The mother is telling her son that no matter what happens, he should never give up. Even though this is a rather sad poem, there is a ...view middle of the document...
Along with the discomfort, the mother may have had to dodge dangerous situations. The image of the broken-down staircase also gives the readers an impression of poverty. A staircase that is broken would not be in a wealthy person’s home, so this also shows us that she is poor. In the 1920’s, which was when this poem was written, many African Americans were moving from the South into the cities for a chance at making a living. Most of them were very poor and lived in poverty, which is why the staircases would be broken down, bare, and no carpet.
The title, “Mother to Son,” tells us that this is a mother giving her son advice. Langston Hughes opens the poem by saying, “Well, son, I’ll tell you:” (1), which could mean that the son had asked her about her life or that maybe he was complaining about his current struggles. The mother then begins to tell her son that her life has not been easy, but she never gives up and she urges her son to do the same:
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the step
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now--
The mother is telling her son that he should never turn around or sit down just because it gets tough, and she uses herself as an example.
You can see the determination that this mother has. She keeps trying and persevering through her troubles, even when it seems like there is no hope, “And sometimes goin’ in the dark / Where there ain’t been no light.” (12-13). “And sometimes goin’ in the dark” (12) could mean two things: she felt hopeless at some points in her life, or that it was hard to see the way. If a place is completely dark with no trace light, it is extremely hard to find your way out of it. There may have been times in the woman’s life where she did not know the way, but she kept on going. We also see that she is still climbing the stairs and that it never ends, “For I’se still goin’, honey, / I’se still climbin’,”...