Literary Techniques Used in Mother to Son by Langston Hughes Essay

Literary Techniques Used in Mother to Son by Langston Hughes Essay

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“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 glimpse of hope because she never gave up. She never let the trials of life bring her down and that gives the readers a sense of hope.
In this poem, Langston Hughes uses an extended metaphor, a staircase, to describe the life of the mother. The mother compares her life to a “crystal stair” saying that, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” (2). This gives the readers an impression that she has not been as fortunate as the people who climb the “crystal stair” and that she has had to work for it. When you picture a “crystal stair,” you think of something that is valuable, expensive and luxurious; therefore, someone who climbs a “crystal stair” would be someone who has great wealth, and has lived a luxurious, perhaps easy, life.
To emphasize the hardships that the mother had to go through, the author uses imagery to describe the staircase that she had to climb:
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor--
Bare. (3-7)
The use of “tacks” and “splinters” illustrate the pain and discomfort...


... middle of paper ...


...bout. The singers will also sing about their daily struggles, like this poem does. Lastly, a blues song will have repetition like this poem does with the “crystal stair.” It begins and ends the poem by saying that, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” (2,20)
In conclusion, Langston Hughes uses an extended metaphor, imagery, dialect, and structure to portray a weary mother who gives her son advice about determination. We see that although her life has given her many troubles, she never gives up hope and she continues on. With the use of the extended metaphor of the staircase and the vivid imagery, the readers receive a clear picture of struggle, perseverance, and hope.


Works Cited

Hughes, Langston. "Mother to Son." 1926. Literature The Human Experience. Richard Abcarian, Marvin Klotz, and Samuel Cohen. 11th ed. N.p.: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2013. 215. Print.

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