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Hughes, Langston. "Mother to Son".

Summary and Analysis

An unrhymed poem in black English dialect. The poem is a piece of advice from a mother to her son. Formally it frequently employs anaphoric "and" to introduce lines with the list of characteristics of the symbolic flight of stairs and the list of things which the mother did to climb it. The motif of darkness (i.e. blackness) reappears.

The speaker, mother, announces that her life has been no "crystal stair" and continues to describe what kind of stair it was. The stair and its quality work here as a metaphor of life with all its "splinters", "boards torn up", and lack of carpets. Still she says she was always trying, climbing on, reaching landings, and sometimes going in the dark. She urges her son to do the same and not to turn back, but to go on, exactly as she did.


  • Author

    Hughes, Langston. (1902 - 1967).
  • Full Title

    "Mother to Son".
  • First Published

    In: The Crisis. 1922.
  • Form


Works Cited

Hughes, Langston. "Mother to Son". (1922). In: The Harper American Literature. Ed. Donald McQuade et al. 2nd Compact Edition. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.


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