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Mother to Son Poem Review

Categories Poems

Review, Pages 9 (2062 words)



Review, Pages 9 (2062 words)

Mother to Son

Mother to Son is a poem written by Langston Hughes and was first published in 1922 in Crisis Magazine. Langston was an African American poet who lived in Mississippi (Roychowdhury, 2014). The poem’s speaker is a mother who happens to be giving an advice to her son from the experiences of her own life. She states how her life has had hard and difficult times that she had to bear with all the time. In line 3-4, the speaker talks of how her life has been a staircase that has had “tacks and splinters” in it.

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In this case, the staircase is used as a metaphor. The woman was brought up in poverty stricken background, considering the images in the poem that reveal old staircase, ragged, like the ones found in an old decrepit building. The poet uses a tactile imagery to mean that the life of the speaker has been full of imperfections and that she had to go through a lot of challenges which she had to deal with to reach some place.

Another aspect of poor upbringing and hardships she had to put up with is portrayed in her accent. It shows how the speaker did not receive proper schooling and hence the poor grasp of grammar right from the early age. The speaker says that “I’se been a-climbin’ on” (“Mother to Son”, line 9) which does not depict good grammar as a result of poor educational background. There is a high possibility that she did not get opportunities for schooling in her early years of age.

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The voice shows how she probably would have wished for things to be different. The environment she grew up in was in no way favorable to meet all her basics due to poverty cycles that she found herself stuck in.

Despite the challenges, the speaker of the poem “Mother to Son” portrays a person of character who is determined and strong, but also whose personality is of a caring person. It is evident where the speaker relentlessly climbs the old staircase with difficulties but never seem to give up. Nonetheless, the woman is caring for her son and advising him not to give up no matter what he is facing. In lines 5 and 12 of the “Mother to Son” poem, the speaker talks of “torn up” stairs and how she has to go over regardless of there being no light.

This shows perseverance and that she cannot give up pushing through even when she is uncertain of where she is headed given the darkness. The speaker has experienced struggles and uncertainties and yet she finds no reason, whatsoever, to give up thereby portraying willpower that is of a strong and courageous woman. Again, the concern and love she has for her son is exemplified in line 18 (“Mother to Son”) where she calls her “honey” and pushes him to keep on moving on.

In addition, the speaker notably insists that the road to success is not a straight path (“Mother to Son”, line 11). At this point the speaker is telling her son that even when he is not completely sure, given the uncertainties of life, he should stick to the target of reaching his destiny. She repeatedly states, in lines 2 and 20, that her life is not a “crystal stair”. The crystal stair represents easy life and people who are wealthy. They are people who probably never struggled or experienced the same difficulties like she did in their entire lives. She was optimistic that her son will make it in life regardless of their current situation and hence demanding her son to remain focused and never give up.

Moreover, the speaker is passionate about her son making it in life. She sees opportunities lying ahead of her son’s life. The son is encouraged that there is no time to “turn back”. Setting down a step behind would be hard to get back on track. That he (the son) should stay focused on what is ahead of him so as not to fall short of seizing the forthcoming opportunities. She is seen to keep reminding her son that challenges will always be there, but they should not act as blocks but rather as stepping stones with a zeal to making his tomorrow better. Turning back would mean a “fall” off the stairs which is taken to mean retreating back and wasting more energy and time trying to get back to that higher level he had already set in.

On the other hand, Langston Hughes reveals the speaker of the poem as an African American woman given the usual writing contexts and perspectives that portray struggles and at same time achievements of African Americans in early 1900’s. This was an era slightly after the outrageous slave trade between America and Africa. The environment was hostile for all people even to a point of not being able to meet a single basic need in a day.

The speaker of the poem looked forward to days of comfort and never wanted her son to undergo similar challenges in his entire. However, of importance to note too, there were those already in luxury and everything about them seemed alright .
Finally, the speaker is addressing the readers of the poem on the perspectives of challenges one has to put up with in life. The message is to the people experiencing hardships and difficulties in life. No one should give up because of poverty or challenges since they are not permanent situations.

Everyone should aim at getting up the “staircase” regardless of the obstacles along the way. The author also brings an aspect of one having someone around them, who will offer encouragement and motivation whenever one feels like giving up. Despite the journey being arduous, one has to keep the chin high and with faith, carry on (Seifert, 2013). It also shows a possibility of making it in life regardless of the background one has come from provided one remains focused to reaching the destiny. Setting priorities and having a role model to look up to will give one an edge in knowing what to do, where and when. People are sources of inspiration and no one can make it in life all alone.

Widow Women

Primarily, the poem, “Widow Woman” put forth by Hughes Langston revolves around an idiomatic, rhythmic poem surrounding a woman whose husband has just deceased. As such, the woman desires nobody else and as well, needed by nobody else. Her late husband is called a mighty ruler due to the fact that he ruled of her for several years. The narrative ends with an italicized exclamation that nobody is in a position to tell when a woman such as a widow is free. Therefore, this paper canters on covering the general information about Harlem Renaissance, as well as the analysis concerning the “Widow Woman” narrative through focusing on the powerful voice for black women highlighted in the poem.

Relating to Miller (2015), the powerful voice for black women is showed in the poem, “Widow Woman.” Basically, the women play a critical role as the voice for the harassed minority of African American women. The women try to express their opinions based on gender affairs. For instance, the woman in the poem tries to relay her views on the truth that she does not desire anybody in her life following the death of her husband, which proves to possess double-bounds, being black and also being a female.

Besides, it highlights that women seek attention, credit, and respect. The poem exposes the underlying problems encountered by the black women when their husbands completely dominate over them without giving them a chance to express themselves. Hence, the most issues covered in the poem concentrates on plain wit and complex irony about the family, and existential restlessness of love, disloyalty, and heartache of ethnic pride and world-weariness concerning women in the society.

Nevertheless, another power of voice captured in the poem among the black women includes the afflictions of race. The women are considered slaves as they are interpreted as revealing, awkward or humiliating to themselves and to men. The culture did not offer them with the humble ground for growth as individuals despite some of them being literate and articulate and capable of education and cultivation, just like the whites.

The mentioned burdens should not hinder women from achieving their goals especially cultural recognition that they win should supplement any consideration to further their benefit of race relationships although things did not work out their way. The poem coerces women to advocate for a space in which colored men and women together with the black generation work and love each other.

To improve on honesty and reciprocity, the black women must be incorporated in activities to create a situation where women influence the achievement of certain goals and discredit unequal situation that propels black women to have a negative attitude towards men, which creates disrespect.

The woman in the poem faced a situation where she liked no one and at the same time, dislike by everybody in the society. Some women are exhibit first rate attention and high level of efficiency at any task. Conversely, the poem tries to create black women voice through the problem they undergo when struggling to make a living in the future after the death of her husband.

The woman’s great fear was that she would not be capable of realizing her drams such as making a living, which contributed to stress relationship with other family members. She was exposed to hush environment full of competition from the male colleagues who had upper hand in accomplishing their dreams. Therefore, women voice about the themes regarding romance and racial personality with regard to female individuality and freedom.

Ideally, the black women held perhaps the lowest position in the community. The formation of a female voice has also been an indispensable concern of women of other ethnic minorities. The women need an improvement in the black social and economic realities that would be realized through gradual and natural means via accommodation and cooperation as opposed to self-assertion. The topic of violence against black women is another issue that women undergo and how to aggressively manage to fight the obstacles of racism and sexism.

At the time, the black women were an easy sexual target, although the act of slavery was abolished. As such, the white men had little to fear, even though their action of abusing the black women was exposed and reported. Black women were totally close to complete powerlessness as the regulation and the social position of African Americans presented no protection for black women. Lastly, black women power of voice presses more on the issue of marriage.

Women expect a serious family where they can bear children and raise them together with their husbands. As such, they are treated with a lot of respect as mothers in the society they live. Mostly, the mistreatment of the black women results from a crisis brought about by death or even lack of children that generate bond with other family members. It’s the myth that destroys women as the male counterparts believe in such restrictions.

So, there exists historical oppression against women and which restricts their development into full, independent beings. Women are against this movement and expect men to break away from such actions as they voice to raise equality in human beings at that point in time. In the poem, the woman faces unique experience where nobody feels sorry for her after losing her beloved husband. This is an exclusive case because it’s the time women must be shown love and care.


The Harlem Renaissance involved the artistic, social, and ethni .Renaissance was effective in various ways that include the Black experience visible within the bounds of American cultural antiquity and enhanced a new start of folk roots and culture. Also, it defined how America and the globe considered African-Americans from rural, most of who lacked basic education since they were peasants of urban complexity.

The Renaissance predisposed future generations of black actors, novelists, and musicians through sharing their rich cultural practices. On the other hand, women expressed the power of their voice concerning many issues in the poem such as going against sexual harassment, discrimination in terms of gender and race issues.

Cite this essay

Mother to Son Poem Review. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/mother-to-son-poem-review-essay

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