22 October 2018
“Life is a Stairway: Literary Analysis of ‘Mother to Son’”
Life challenges people on a daily basis. Life can be hard and even seeming impossible at
certain times. Life isn’t easy for anyone and can be even tougher for people of different races.
While that may be true, life is difficult for everyone no matter the race, sex, or anything.
Langston Hughes shows the challenges everyone faces but especially a young black male faces
in his poem, “Mother to Son.” Hughes, in his poem “Mother to Son,” uses symbolism and the
metaphor that life is a staircase to show the obstacles one must overcome to accomplish life
Hughes uses a staircase as a metaphor for life and its obstacles, each step is a step closer
to accomplishing one’s goals in life. He is expressing that there is challenges in life that one must
overcome to get where they want to be. “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.” (Hughes line 2).
The mother, the narrator, is explaining that life isn’t easy that there are challenges that will affect
her son all throughout life. Crystal is a sign of money which means that a rich person’s life is
easy, that would mean life is just a nice walk up a crystal staircase.The mother is saying that her
life hasn’t been easy and that she has had to overcome many obstacles. Life isn’t a cake walk for
anyone by no means, there are challenges that the most privileged people have to face. From a
young age life presents challenges right away.
By the age of five kids are thrown into a group of their peers in school, kids automatically have
to learn how to socialize and deal with others the same age. Those are just the beginning steps on
the staircase. “It’s had tacks in it/ And splinters,” (Lines 3-4) Hughes is explaining the first steps
of the staircase, which is the early parts of one’s life. The “Tacks” would be socialization that
kids have to deal with. How to make friends and how to act around their peers. The “Splinters”
are bullies that one faces as a child and young adult. The mother in the poem is letting her son
know that there are times when some people are going to be mean, racist, or just plain rude for
no apparent reason. Every child has to learn how to socialize with others and learn how to deal
with being bullied, they have to overcome this to move along in life and make their way up the
staircase. As kids socialize the make relationships with people. They form bonds and learn how
The relationships one forms with others mean so much to people. At a certain age people
lose someone they care about and having to deal with that for the first time can be very
challenging. “Boards torn up,/ And places with no carpet on the floor/ Bare.” (lines 4-6). The
boards being ripped up represents the loss of someone. Losing...