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The Harlem Renaissance drew new attention to and redefined the unique African American culture of art, music and dance.

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The mother compares the journey through life to ascending a staircase. She says that for her life has not been a staircase made of crystal. Rather it has been quite rough with protruding nails and pieces of wood jutting out, boards torn up and places where the carpet was missing.

Mother To Son (by Langston Hughes)

However, she has kept climbing, through landings, corners and darkness in spite of such discomforts. She then asks the boy to walk in her footsteps and keep moving forward without turning back or giving up because he finds the journey arduous. The anonymous mother in the poem may be suggestive of the African American women of predepression America encouraging their sons to strive for success.

The poem is written in the form of a dramatic monolgue in black dialect. The idiomatic style of the speech is invoked in the context of the courage, endurance and sense of duty of the African American race.

The language also imparts a charged colloquial element to the poem. The theme of the poem is perseverence. Tacks are nails and splinters are small fragments of wood which make it hard for the person to step. The dilapidated staircase is also representative of the poor living conditions of the Black Americans under the tyranny of the Whites.

Langston Hughes: Poems Summary and Analysis of "Mother to Son" and "Dreams"

The poem is suggestive of the effect of racism and oppression on the lives and experiences of the black Americans. However, this piece of advice from mother to son has an universal quality as it can be read as an advice from any mother to any son, anywhere in the world, without keeping the historical background in mind.

She does not want him to lose courage and start descending, or get tired, sit down to rest and not resume climbing. The poem is written in free verse and has a lyrical quality due the idiomatic language used by the poet. The poetic devices involved in the poem is the extended metaphor of life being a staircase. The stairway may be seen as a path to freedom and liberation which was the goal of the African Americans.

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The mother teaches the that he should never collapse under the pressures that life puts him through. She wants him to be tenacious like herself.


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Home Poetry Analyses of Famous Poems. Related Posts. In this article, we…. Analysis of "Eating Poetry" Poem by Mark Strand In this article, we will take a look at a poem which many poets hold….

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Gary R. Hess Gary was born and raised on a small farm in rural Kansas. More Posts Twitter Facebook.