Langston Hughes Mother to Son Poem Analysis

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12 Questions

What literary device is primarily used by Langston Hughes in 'Mother to Son'?


Which of the following is NOT a feature of the staircase in 'Mother to Son'?

Crystal-clear appearance

What effect does the use of dialect have on 'Mother to Son'?

Enhances the song-like quality of the verses

In 'Mother to Son,' what does the crystal stair symbolize?

Life's challenges and struggles

What purpose does anaphora serve in 'Mother to Son'?

To emphasize important ideas and build intensity

What impression does the use of dialect in 'Mother to Son' give about the narrator?

Uneducated but wise

What is the central advice given by the mother in 'Mother to Son'?

To continue climbing despite difficulties

Why does the mother mention broken boards, splinters, and tacks in the poem?

To demonstrate the dangers and obstacles in life

How does Langston Hughes portray the mother in 'Mother to Son'?

As a figure of wisdom and resilience

In what context can Langston Hughes' work be placed according to the text?

Civil rights activism

How does the historical context of Langston Hughes influence the interpretation of 'Mother to Son'?

It provides insight into the struggles faced by Black Americans

What literary device is predominantly used in 'Mother to Son'?

Metaphors and imagery

Study Notes

Literary Devices and Structure

  • The literary device primarily used by Langston Hughes in 'Mother to Son' is metaphor.

The Staircase Symbolism

  • The crystal stair symbolizes a life of ease and comfort, which the mother never had.

Dialect and Impression

  • The use of dialect in 'Mother to Son' gives the impression that the narrator is an uneducated, African American woman from the rural South.
  • The dialect also adds a sense of authenticity and intimacy to the poem.

Central Advice and Theme

  • The central advice given by the mother in 'Mother to Son' is to persevere and keep moving forward despite the difficulties of life.

Imagery and Symbolism

  • The mother mentions broken boards, splinters, and tacks in the poem to illustrate the difficulties and obstacles she has faced in life.
  • The use of these images creates a sense of hardship and struggle.

Portrayal of the Mother

  • Langston Hughes portrays the mother in 'Mother to Son' as a wise, loving, and experienced woman who wants to pass on her life lessons to her son.

Historical Context

  • Langston Hughes' work can be placed in the context of the Harlem Renaissance.
  • The historical context of Langston Hughes, an African American poet living during the Harlem Renaissance, influences the interpretation of 'Mother to Son' by highlighting the struggles faced by African Americans during that era.


  • The anaphora in 'Mother to Son' serves to emphasize the mother's message and create a sense of rhythm and musicality in the poem.

Explore the themes and messages in Langston Hughes' poem 'Mother to Son'. This poem portrays a mother's guidance to her son on persevering through life's challenges and hardships. Dive into the poem's symbolism and underlying meanings.

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