"Mother To Son"

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade May 2001

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"Mother to Son" Langston Hughes, a prolific and well-known author, has published several books over a period of 40 years. He was born in Missouri in 1902 and published his first poem in High school. He was also a famous writer during the Harlem Renaissance. In the Poem "Mother to Son," Hughes relates a stair case as a metaphor for life to emphasize the vivid diction of the words expressed in this poem to bring out the theme.

Hughes begins with his mother telling her son about her struggles and hardships throughout her life. In lines 1-6, the author uses the words "crystal stair," "tacks," "splinters," "boards," and "bare" to symbolize the mother's obstacles she encounters in her life. Hughes uses a "crystal stair" to compare it to her life. A crystal stair usually represents a life of "wealth and luxury"(Mrs. Lee's Sixth Grade Poetry Unit) but is contrasting her life.

"Tacks" are small tiny nails but represent the small problems in her life. "Splinters" are tiny particles of wood but indicate the small conflicts that try to harass her. "Boards" are broken and holes are present in the wood emphasizes that her life has holes and everything is not holding up for her. "Bare" is normally thought of as having no carpert or cushion but portrays how her life is always a struggle and she has nothing to simplify it. In lines 7-17, the author uses "Reachin' landin's," "goin' in the dark," "don't you turn back," "don't you set down," "kinder hard," "I'se still climbin'," and "and life for me ain't been no crystal stair" to reiterate the theme. "Reachin' landin's" are the tops of the stairs but implies that she is finding secure places to go during the struggles she battles. "Goin' in the dark"...