Mother To Son Literary Devices

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Langston Hughes’ “Mother to Son” is a poem that narrates an African American mother talking to and encouraging her son. Hughes using narration with overcoming problems adds allows “Mother to Son” to be a blues poem. By using the narrative form and the descriptions of her struggling with colloquies, the poem has characteristics of blues music and tradition.
The form of “Mother to Son” adds to the blues feeling with it being narrative. Line 1’s “Well, son, I’ll tell you…” allows the reader to understand the next lines are going to be maternalistic in their message. The tone being advisory adds to the feeling that she is talking to her son to help him understand a moral. Her story is an extended metaphor throughout the entirety of the poem with her comparing her life to a “crystal stair” (Line 2). Hughes’ has the mother describe her life as ragged but usable stairs by listing items that construct stairs like “tacks, splinters, boards, and carpet” in Lines 3 to 6; these physical nouns add to the metaphor as
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Hughes’ uses African American vernacular throughout the poem with typical words, phrases, and grammar used like “ain’t been no”, “with no carpet”, “a-climbin’ on”, “goin’ “, “’cause”, and “I’se”. This manner of speaking adds character and personality to the mother by allowing the reader to infer that she is most likely Black, not a society or high-class woman, and that she is a working-class mother. The use of colloquial language adds to the generalization that blues is an African American originated genre and how personal the speaking can be for singers or poets due to them not changing their lyrics to have proper or acceptable English grammar. The language also adds to the maternal tone by using “you” in lines 1 and 18, the familiarity allows the reader to feel the fondness of the mother’s remembrance of her struggles and reprimands to her son in order to encourage him to not give
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