Hughes uses dramatic monologue for this poem, in which the mother directly addresses her son and reveals much about her character in the process. This style adds a powerful emotional immediacy to the verse.
The mother in the poem speaks in a vivid dialect, using the non-standard grammar of her subculture in phrases such as "ain't been no." The flavor of her black world and her religious training also come through in her image of her life not being a crystal staircase, an allusion to the Biblical story of Jacob climbing a stairway to heaven. This idyllic staircase provides a contrast to the many stairs this women has climbed. Hughes uses vivid imagery—description using the five senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell—to show the roughness of her stairs, which have
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor
The stairs are both literal and a metaphor
for her life's journey. The mother compares her life to a climb up a rough staircase.
Hughes employs repetition for...
(The entire section contains 2 answers and 575 words.)