Thursday, June 09, 2011

Group 4 "Mother to Son" Langston Hughes

1. What is your interpretation of the poem? What can you offer in terms of interpretation that can help deepen the understanding of the poem? What continues to confuse you? What do you notice about the use of poetic devices?

2. Comment on a classmate's interpretaion and/or question(s).


  1. This poem was about a mother telling her son to keep moving forward and never give up; she knows what hardships he's going through because she's been through it all herself. This poem uses a lot of metaphors, it compares life to a staircase. The bumps in the staircase are obstacles in life, and the twists and turns are like pivotal moments in a person's life.
    Jenny L. P 6

  2. I found this poem to be very inspirational and had similar views to Jenny's. The mother of the poem was reminding her son that life is far from easy and that she knows what he may be going through. She used a few anecdotes when describing conditions she had been through/withnessed. She was also being realistic with him saying that things would get better but like her, he'll always be climbing and trying to get through hardships.

    I liked your explanation of the staircase and how it relates to life! I didn't catch that and I'm glad you pointed that out!

    Kelly L. P5

  3. This poem is obviously about a mother cheering up & encouraging her son. She is telling him not to give up and to trust that everything will be okay. The tacks, splinters, and torn up boards discussed in the poem represent the obstacles in life. Because Langston Hughes did not have his mother around, I think that he may have written this poem in order to express what he wished his mother would have said to him. I also believe that he yearned for a tight mother-son relationship like the narrator has with her son. Also, in this poem, life is being compared to stairs which is a really interesting comparison. A landing on the stairs is a break of stepping so it could represent meeting a goal. The stairs on a staircase require effort and work towards meeting the landing, so the stairs represent working towards goals. (Confusing, I know :/) Also, stairs go up and down, just like there are ups and downs in life.

    Alexis P5

  4. Alexis, I had a very similar interpretation of the poem as you. The way he phrases "and reachin' landin's, and turnin' corners" makes me think of milestones reached, and unexpected obstacles and twists and turns that come up in life. What you said about him wishing for his mother to have said that to him is really interesting! I didn't think of that until you mentioned it!
    Another part thing that I saw in the poem is where he says, "And sometimes goin' in the dark Where there ain't been no light" represents that even when all hope seems lost, you still have to keep climbing stairs and move along.

    Sreedevi p6

  5. This poem is an inspiration and a way that you should live your life. It should be used as a way to positively benefit from your life and when the going gets tough you should read this poem. It also shows that life is never going to be perfect and that the hardships you face will always be there that you need to conquer.

    Austin C
    Period 6

  6. After learning that Langston Hughes' mother wasn't around much, I was able to get a better understanding of the meaning of this poem. The mother in the poem compared her life to NOT being a "crystal stair". She stated how her life was not as perfect as crystal, but had "tacks" and "splinters" in it. However, she kept climbing and got through life the best she could. The mother continued to tell her son that he needed to keep trying and not to give up on life because she herself had to overcome a lot of hardships in her life as well.

    Alexis, I like hwo you explained the meaning of the staircase and compared it to the ups and downs in life!

    Amanda M Period 5

  7. after reading the Langston hueges poem i was really happy to hear how his life turnes out. like he was put down so much and he just keeps rising back up to become the man he knows he was supposed to become. and i also think that he is an inspiration to all people and that people should use his as a role model and never give up on anything they want to set there minds to.

    Austin C, i totally agree with you this poem is an inspiration and its good to relate your own personal life to!

    Lauren N. period 5

  8. In this poem Langston Hughes is explaining the hardships of his life by using a house or a building to set an image in your mind. He says “There’s splinters, and boards torn up and places with no carpet on the floor, bare.” This quote is him explaining a type of old rickety building that is falling apart. But he’s using t6his to show you that his life “aint been no crystal stair” And at the same time he explains how even though his life hasn’t been great he “keeps a-climbin’ on” and trudging through his hard times, his broken up house. What kind of confuses me is when he says “don’t you set down on the steps cause you finds its kinder hard” Is he saying that it will be harder if you stop and don’t try to keep going on? That’s how I interpret it but I’m not sure.
    Jarrett L.
    Period 5

  9. In the poem mother to son Langston Hughes portrays to us that life is never easy and that it presents problems to everyone and no one is an exception to this. I found this poem to be very inspiring because it is about a mother who is telling her son that he needs to keep going and that he should never give up no matter what life throws at you. Life will knock you down, that is assured, but you should always get back up no matter what. I think that Lnagston Hughes uses mataphors such as a "crystal stair" which is a very helpful poetic device in allowing us to understand the meaning of the poem. "Don't you set down on the steps...'Cause you finds it's kinder hard. Don't you fall now- For I'se still going', honey, I'se still climbin', and life for me ain't been no crystal stair." Hughes writes this poem is sort of an anectdotal tone which is helpful and effective way of getting the meaning of the poem across.

    Austin i agrree heavily with your analysis of this poem and share many of the same ideas as you. I too found it to be very inspirational and motivational.

    Jake Period 6

  10. In this poem by Langston Hughes, it seems to be a very depressing setting. However, its clear, that he is a man that knows what he wants and who he wants to be. For his whole life, he is put down by everybody and is told that he cant do what he wants. But, as he proves in this poem, he is far too determined to give up. To me, this is a very inspirational poem and shows the reader that you can do anything you set your mind to.

    I totally agree with you. Its really good to hear that his life turned out and that he was able to do what he wanted. Its a true inspiration.

    Sam B. Per. 5