Harlem Renaissance Poetry Explication

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Cristine Aye Easto English IV DC-4 28 March 2011 “Mother to Son” Poetry Explication The Harlem Renaissance was a time where many forms of artistry emerged. Art served, not only as a form of self expression, but as a release of the building racial tension. Poetry, in particular, played a huge role during that time period, because poets addresses hard hitting issues like inequality and injustice through their powerful words. Langston Hughes used his poetic influence to not only inspire the African American community, but to shine a light on the injustice and tribulations they faced on a daily basis. In Mother to Son, a woman is telling her son of the battles he may face in life and to continue on despite what life throws his way. Her advice serves as the message and theme of the poem. Through literary devices such as metaphors, symbols, repetition, word placement and informal language, Hughes supports the theme of the poem which is, life is an uphill battle, but with determination and courage, it is always possible to rise again if knocked down. In Langston Hughes’ “Mother to Son”, both the son and the reader are enthralled by the mother’s words of wisdom. No, she does not have the best grammar, or word choice, but the influence of the poem stretches far beyond her dialect. Hughes portrays the speaker as a mother who is genuinely concerned about her son, and uses her experiences to hearten him. The speaker of the poem is offering her knowledge and wisdom to her son to guide him. Though it can only be assumed what the son is thinking, based upon the impact of the mothers words, the audience can assume he takes her words to heart. In the poem, the mother’s purpose is to advise her son to stay encouraged, and not let the burden of life stop him from living. At one point she tells him “Don’t you set down on the steps” (Line 15), meaning she wants for her son not to concede
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