Mother and Son by Langston Hughes

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The poem, “Mother and Son” by Langston Hughes was written in 1922 when Hughes focused his writing on the lives of African Americans and their hardships against discrimination and poverty. It describes the struggles many people have in life, and their hardships to make it through. The poem is written as a conversation taking place between a mother and her son. It continues to detail a mother’s past experiences, which influence the advice she then gives to her son. Langston Hughes uses figurative language in his poem “Mother to Son” to describe the mother’s difficult journey through life.

Stairs are a symbol used to show someone moving up in life, which is the image Langston Hughes used to explain the journey one has in life. “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair”, this crystal stair is used to compare the speaker’s (the mother) life as being a hard one, possibly one that is without privilege. Tacks, splinters, torn boards and a floor with no carpet are some of the words used to give the idea that life was not easy for some during this time, many were confronted with prejudice and economic hardship. “Don’t you set down on the steps ‘cause you finds it’s kinder hard” Hughes again uses the steps to show the African American struggles during this time, and the obstacles they needed to overcome. He uses the story from the mother to the son to express the need for the next generation to continue moving upward for the rights they’ve fought so hard to obtain.

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In conclusion, Langston Hughes is showing us the hardships of the African American mother during a time of struggle. His words express a plea for persistence through a country experiencing a great deal of racial inequality. Hughes shows us that we must work for the things we have in life, and that we will face challenges along our way. Even if you hit rock bottom, you need to stand up, brush yourself off and move on. Ultimately, the mother shows us that there is hope in her own success, that life moves on regardless of the hardships that stand in our way.

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Mother and Son by Langston Hughes. (2021, Mar 18). Retrieved from