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What is the tone of the poem ''Mother to Son''?

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robinho | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 20, 2009 at 3:48 AM via web

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What is the tone of the poem ''Mother to Son''?

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 24, 2009 at 12:31 PM (Answer #1)

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The tone of "Mother to Son" is didactic.  A mother, after looking back at her life, wants her son to know that life is not easy or glamorous--it's not a "crystal stair." Instead, the mother/speaker chooses to describe her life as a winding, unrelenting staircase.  However, the poem does not imply a negative tone toward life as a whole.  The mother states that even though her life has not been facile, she has been "reachin' landin's," "turnin' corners," and "sometimes goin' in the dark." This implies that she wants her son to press on even when he does not know what lies ahead of him. 

The last several lines of the poem definitely illustrate an inspirational tone.  The mother admonishes her son not to fall down because she's "still climbin'."  If she can continue on her ardous journey after all these years, then surely her son can gain encouragement from his mother's example.

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