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Langston Hughes Mother to Son & the Negro Mother Comparison

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Essay title: Langston Hughes Mother to Son & the Negro Mother Comparison

Langston Hughes Mother To Son & The Negro Mother Comparison

Americans in the early 20th century have been through a series of pivotal events that has affected the country greatly such as the Women Suffrage Movement, The Depression, and two World Wars. However, in my opinion the Harlem Renaissance is the most critical moment in our nation's history especially for African-Americans. The Harlem Renaissance is during the 1920s and 30s when in the upper Manhattan district of Harlem had become the flourishing capital of African-American culture as writers, musicians, artists, photographers, philosophers, and intellectuals created works that probed the black American heritage with a psychological intensity and fierce pride. African Americans such as Countee Cullen, Angelina W. Grimke, James Weldon Johnson and much more have been remembered for their writings during the Harlem Renaissance as well as Langston Hughes, who was known as the "king of the Harlem Renaissance." James Mercer Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, on February 1,1902 to a lawyer and a teacher. Hughes did not live a normal childhood; his parents were divorced and he was forced to move from town to town living with relatives. As a child Hughes had taken up an interest in writing poetry. His career as a poet began, rather abruptly in the spring of 1916 when he was voted class poet even though he had never written a poem. However, he written six poems for graduation and began taken an interest in writing from then on. Hughes wrote novels, plays, short stories, essays, but he was most known for his poetry. The realities of the black experiences and the possibilities of hope and advancement were constantly present in his poetry. He displayed his message in various ways, one in particularly through a mother's point of view, which is shown in "Mother to Son" and "The Negro Mother."

Langston Hughes' "Mother to Son" is written entirely from a mother's viewpoint. I found this interesting because most poets usually write in their outlook. The title implies that the poem is written or spoken from mother to son. "Mother to Son takes the form of a dramatic monologue; that is, a poem spoken in a imagined speaker in this case, a mother to her son. The son has either asked his mother a question or complained of his frustrations."(Wasley) I agree with this because the poem starts out like a conversation "Well son." The metaphor of the crystal stair may represent "the dreams that the mother once held but which she has learned no longer to expect." (Miller) However, I think the crystal stairs may symbolize a materialistic life of the rich. Hughes includes such realistic details to make the metaphor of a stairway literal and symbolic at the same time. Hughes includes details that appeal to the reader's vision, hearing, and touch otherwise known as sensory details. The tacks and the splinters may literally mean the stairs they walked on because the live in a poor house or it can symbolically mean the life she has experienced as being complicated. The last few lines urge the son to keep on going, ("so boy don't turn your back, Don't you set down on those steps") despite the setbacks in his life. The mother also says, "I'se still climbin'" which indicates that she is a strong woman. "For a women of such determination to be kept this poor indicates that hardship is not a moral issue, but is related to an external cause, such as the limits that are put on people because of their race."(Poetry for Students, 3, 180) I agree with this statement because during those times African-Americans faced much discrimination. The mother affirms the value of persistence and faith in one's goal. Despite the obstacles she has continued to make gains "And reaching' landin's, and turnin' corners." Hughes decides to take the role of the mother instead of a father for many reasons. For example "Hughes female speaker represent original models, of human endurance. In this poem, the woman also represents the continuation of the race. (Miller) I believe he chose a mother to advise her son because he in his own lifetime was much closer to his mother also because mothers usually give their sons advice about hardships in life while fathers expect their sons to know.

One of his less famous poems is titled "The Negro Mother." In this poem he extols the black woman as the hope of the black community. He states that the whites sold their black mother three hundred years ago from Africa. He goes on to say that she, the Negro mother, is the one who worked in their fields, whom they mistreated, and whose children and husband they sold. Yet she remains nourishing to her children through her hard work and her dreams for them.

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