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Mother To Son

Mother To Son

Explain why the poem speaks to you and how you see some words of this poem say more than just their literal meaning.

Hughes uses a mother’s tone in this poem to warn her son about life hurdles and how he should press amidst all the challenges. The mother makes a comparison of life’s journey to that of climbing up a staircase. She depicts that her life has had numerous challenges and is quite rough, but she has persevered and endured all the discomforts. She beseeches her son not to give up in life regardless of the problems but instead face them head-on. She gives herself a key inspiration in the fact that she is still going up regardless of the hardship in life.

The entire theme of this poem is to show the need to speak about the importance of experience and determination. When addressing her child, the woman uses a staircase image to describe what life will be like. Regardless of the challenges, darkness, and dangers of the stairs, one should continue climbing just like the mother does.

Langston Hughes, the poet, uses dialect language in the mother’s monologue of a mother who wishes nothing but the best for her child. She sounds desperate and down to the heel, on the verge of wanting her son to prosper following her advice. In other words, her dialect could also depict power and natural choice. This is because the advice and message are simple and straightforward, genuine, and bring about heartfelt positivity. You can tell the mother is hopeful for her son and keeps encouraging her to keep climbing just like she has always and still is doing. She uses her journey of not turning back or setting down the steps to encourage her son.


Langston Hughes: “Mother to Son” (Links to an external site.)


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Mother to son –Langston Hughes

The reason why authors choose their words so carefully is that they always want words to say more than just their literal, dictionary meaning. The power of literature lies in its suggestive potential to readers who will add their own creative associations to the words they are reading on a page.

Mother To Son

Mother To Son

This is especially true for poetry where poets work with a very limited amount of words so every word must count. To use a simple example, the word “rose” in a poem means more than just naming a particular flower. We immediately visualize the word (think of a color, a shape of flower, thorns, etc.), associate the rose with certain sentiments and occasions depending on our personal experiences (love, of course, but, it may also signal betrayal or disappointment if associated with a break up, or deep sadness if associated with a person we loved who passed away).

So for this week’s Discussion Board, I would like you to choose one of the poems listed in Required Resources and explain why the poem speaks to you and how you see some words of this poem say more than just their literal meaning.

To receive full credit for this Discussion Board:

  1. Submit your main post of approximately 250 words

Please read these poems this week to participate in the Discussion Board:

  1. Langston Hughes: “Mother to Son” (Links to an external site.)
  2. Margaret Atwood: “[you fit into me]” (Links to an external site.)
  3. Martín Espada: “Coca-Cola and Coco Frío” (Links to an external site.)
  4. Pablo Neruda: “Sweetness, Always” (Links to an external site.)
  5. Ijeoma Umebinyuo: “Strength” (Links to an external site.)

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