Mother To Son

Name ______________________________________ Period _______ Date _____________
“Mother To Son” – Langston Hughes
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floorBare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on.
And reachin’ landin’s
And turnin’ corners.
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall nowFor I’se still goin’, honey.
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal
1) Identify the extended metaphor in the poem.
2) What has the mother’s “stairway” been like? What evidence from the test can you use to
support your theory?
3) Name four things the mother has done on this stairway.
4) Name three things the mother has told her son not to do.
5) What is normally associated with the word crystal? Why do you think the poet has the
mother use the image of a “crystal stair”?
6) What kinds of human experiences do you think the mother is talking about in lines 3-7?
What kind of response to these experiences is she describing in lines 8-13? Why do you
think that?
7) What do you think has motivated this mother’s monologue to her son? Has he asked for her
advice or has he done something she disapproves of or is he just discouraged? What support
from the text can you find to support your theory?
8) What fears do you think this mother has about her son’s life? Do you think these are
universal fears or do they apply only to the mother and son in this poem? Explain.
9) When the mother keeps saying “don’t,” what is she really telling him to do?
10) Lines 2 and 10 provide examples of two common features of dialect used throughout the
United States. What are they?
11) What is the meaning of the contraction “I’se” (lines 9, 18, and 19)?
12) How might line 9 be written in standard English? Line 15? Line16?