“Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes,

After reading “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes, reply to the following prompts:

  1. Hughes uses a central metaphor of a staircase, one not made of crystal, to compare the mother’s life to. Why do you think this metaphor is effective?
  2. The mother tells her son that her life has been full of “tacks,” “splinters,” “boards torn up,” and “places with no carpet.” The poet uses these concrete, tangible images as symbols of the mother’s difficult experiences. What could these images symbolize/represent in the mother’s life? Be specific and keep historical context in mind as the poem was written in 1922.
  3. Has a significant figure in your life ever given you the type of encouragement the mother gives to her son? Have you been the one to give the encouragement to someone you care about?

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