Symbolic Imagery in Langston Hughes' Poems, The Negro Speaks of Rivers and Mother To Son

Symbolic Imagery in Langston Hughes' Poems, The Negro Speaks of Rivers and Mother To Son

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Symbolic Imagery in Langston Hughes' Poems, The Negro Speaks of Rivers and Mother To Son


Langston Hughes uses symbolism throughout his poetry. In the poems 'The Negro Speaks of Rivers' and 'Mother To Son', Langston Hughes uses symbolism to convey his meaning of the poems to the readers. Readers may make many interpretations about the symbols used throughout these poems. Throughout the poem 'The Negro Speaks of Rivers' Hughes uses metaphorical statements to suggest to the reader what the soul of the African American has been through. The symbols of the old rivers, from which the African American ideal has risen, can be interpreted in many different ways. They can represent the birth and growth of the African American culture, and some of the most significant moments of their past. The symbolism in 'Mother To Son' is used to portray a life of struggle that African Americans must strive to conquer. The words written in this poem represent the pride and knowledge of a group of outstanding people. Reader response varies widely due to the use of symbolism in Langston Hughes works.

Throughout the poem 'The Negro Speaks of Rivers' Hughes uses the word 'I' (4). Some people interpret this word not merely as one man but instead the embodiment of the African American culture. In the poem Hughes says 'I've known rivers' (1) this may be interpreted to mean that the African People have seen those times that are represented by the rivers and flourished because of them. This poem can be interpreted to mean that the African Americans accomplishments and history is being shown by the rivers. Hughes is saying that the culture of these people has ?grown deep like the rivers? (3). It has become a plethora of ...


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...n his poetry. Hughes creates many responses to these poems through the use of symbolism, which he may otherwise not have been able to do.

Works Cited

Dove, Rita, and Marilyn Nelson. ?Langston Hughes and Harlem.? Literature An Introduction To Fiction, Poetry, And Drama. Eds. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia 3rd ed. New York: Longman, 2003. 770

Hughes, Langston. ?The Negro Speaks of Rivers.? Literature An Introduction To Fiction, Poetry, And Drama. Eds. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia 3rd ed. New York: Longman, 2003. 759

Hughes, Langston. ?Mother To Son.? Literature An Introduction To Fiction, Poetry, And Drama. Eds. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia 3rd ed. New York: Longman, 2003. 759

Pinckney, Darryl. ?Black Identity In Langston Hughes.? Literature An Introduction To Fiction, Poetry, And Drama. Eds. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia 3rd ed. New York: Longman, 2003. 772

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