Mother to Son: An Analysis
Parents are bound to lead their children in one way or another into the right pathways of life. They are our first teachers and more than that, they are actually the best ones next to experience. Relevantly, it is their duty to take care of us, their children, and make sure that we are living life the way it is supposed to be. However, as we grow old, we tend to learn making our own decisions. We feel a sense of completeness and fulfilment when we are able to choose what we want in life. Some parents find this not good, while others let their children be. After all, people are distinct from one another. Yet in either ways, when we start to loosen the tie that binds, our parents feel so much pain and anxiety. They become too worried that our decisions might not lead us to the life they have always dreamed of us having, and that hurts a lot more than we know. Finally, when the time comes, a judgment on your decision has become visible, that is the time when they will either feel relief for letting you make your own choices, or regret for not putting more effort in restraining you in making such decisions. For the same reason, they make sure that they are there in every stage of your life, to teach you and to guide you, and to tell you not to repeat the same mistakes they made when they were younger.
This is what the poem is all about. “Mother to Son” is written by Langston Hughes. He was a black writer who emerged in the 1920s for being one with an exceptional literary and artistic sense. He wrote this poem to let the world know, particularly children, what it feels like to become a mother who sees her son suffering from all the hardships of life. In this poem, it is evident that the speaker is a mother. The metaphor used was the crystal stair, in which the mother explained that her life was not also perfect and easy. Hence, the theme of the story is to never give up on life no matter how much it treats you badly.
The poem consists of two ideals: the teachings of a mother to his son and the encouragement she gives despite all the hardships. In the first part of the poem, the mother told her son about her own experiences – that life hit her with its hardest slam as well. She described these experiences to be incomparable with a crystal stair. By crystal, she meant perfect and easy. Her life, according to her, was full of tacks and splinters in it. It was bare and simple, with no fancy things and decors hanging on it. And then she described how she dealt with life and all misfortunes. She gave emphasis on how she climbed the ladder, even if it was not crystal, and tried so hard to survive. Life indeed hacked her with a lot of downfalls and back steps. Nonetheless, she stood to fight and go on. She got up from all her failures and showed life that she cannot be destructed. And so, she encouraged his son to keep up with the drudges of life and fight back. She said to him, “So boy, don’t you turn back. Don’t you set down on the steps.” because going back means accepting failure and setting down the stairs would mean no intention to continue reaching dreams. In the last line, she finally told him never to let himself fall down. She challenged her son to look at her and see that she is still climbing and going up the ladder even if life for her was not a crystal stair.
I guess this is what any parent would want to teach their children — that the world is not a sweet place and life will not give you lemons all the time. In some instances, even those with crystal stairs do not find life easy and perfect. The balance is just right. We all have our own hardships and obstacles to concern ourselves with. It is just the way we deal with them that makes the difference. Some may address their problems by giving up, while others will struggle to defeat the so called battle with life. We are all eventually going to hit rock bottom. However, we must never forget that life should not be as hard as it seems. Just like what the old saying says, when life gives you lemons, make some lemonade. If it does not, no worries because you can always make other juices. In short, even if life becomes unfair and decides to not give you what you want, let it be and continue to live. Just like our parents, we must learn to encourage our own selves to defeat the attacks of life on us and overcome all challenges that it has to give.