Mother to Son Examples

Mother to Son

"Mother to Son" is a poem written by African American poet Langston Hughes. Here is the full text of the poem:

Examples of Mother to Son:

Well, son, I'll tell you:
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-
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.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now-
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

In the poem, the speaker is a mother imparting encouragement to her son. Her central message is that her son must persevere when life is not easy. She uses her own life as an example-she has continued to "climb" even when life has been difficult.

Hughes uses an extended metaphor in this poem, as the mother compares life to a staircase that she is climbing. She says that her life "ain't been no crystal stair." This means that her life has not been easy. She describes her life, or her "stair" as one that has "tacks," "splinters," and "boards torn up." At times there has been "no carpet on the floor." The speaker uses these details about the staircase to imply that her life has been difficult. Her climb has not been without challenges. Yet, she has continued to climb-to persevere. She has been "reachin' landin's, and turnin' corners" because she has continued to move during difficult times.

In the last half of the poem, the mother turns from describing her own climb to encouraging her son. She tells him not to "turn back" or "set down" because the climb is difficult. She is "still climbin'," so she expects him to continue to move through his difficult times as well.

The overall tone of Hughes' poem is one of hope and determination. Hughes, writing at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, often wrote in a manner that shined a light on the struggle of African Americans in the early 20th century. In this poem, regardless of the difficulties the mother faced due to poverty or discrimination, she remained optimistic.

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