Henry Louis Gates, a American literary critic, stated about his parents, “Everything my mother and father did was designed to put me where I am. In Langston Hughes’s poem “Mother to Son” he emphasizes how parents work hard all their lives to teach their children to not fail in life. Mothers and fathers spend lots of time parenting their child and giving them important lessons which guides them to work through tough times and achieve their aspirations.
Figurative language used throughout the poem depicts the hard path the speaker goes through in life. For example, she describes her life as “no crystal stair”(2). The metaphor describes her lifetime as nothing close to easy; the crystal stairs represents the opposite of her life. In her words, she explains that even with lots of misfortune she still keeps on going on because there is something greater than her at the end of the staircase. In addition, the speaker explains how she never stops walking up “sometimes goin’ in the dark / Where there ain’t been no light” (12-13). The idiom explains the darkness she walks through is her life with no happiness or nothing to live for. When she says there is “no light” in places where she steps, the speaker walks with no direction in life and trusts a higher power to guide her forward. She teaches her son to keep going even with all his dreams in life gone because destiny will guide him toward the path they have chose for him as long as he does not give up. Through her tough experiences the speaker learns lessons that inspire her son to work hard in life even if he does not have the advantages others have in life.
Imagery used throughout the poem conveys the hardships and pain not only she went through in her life, but her son will have to go through as well. For instance, the speaker lists many obstacles on the staircase that references all the troubles in her life:
It’s had tacks in it,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor. (3-6)
The various images placed in the stairs translates to the harsh realities and discomforts she has had in her life span. These impediments show the hard task one has to go through before arriving at the summit of their long journey of life.