Mother to Son Questions and Answers
by Langston Hughes

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In "Mother to Son" what is the extended metaphor?

The extended metaphor in "Mother to Son" is the mother's life described as a staircase. She explains that the stairs aren't made of crystal and consist of obstacles, but she has always kept climbing the stairs despite the difficulty of doing so. Her message here is the importance of persistence despite the challenges of their social circumstances.

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The entirety of Langston Hughes' poem "Mother to Son" is an extended metaphor. The poem is written from the perspective of a black mother who is encouraging her child never to give up on life, even if life is not difficult for him. She expresses upon him the fact that her own life has not been a "crystal stair." By this, she suggests that life is a continual uphill climb: the point of life is to move from a lower to a higher position. However, the journey from one place to the other will rarely be smooth like crystal. On the contrary, for the mother in the poem, life has been full of "tacks"things which have interrupted her journey and made it more difficult.

The stairway from lower to higher ground has been often "bare," and the mother has sometimes felt as if she is climbing "in the dark" the implication here being that she has little knowledge of what will happen to her next, or what is expected of her. Sometimes there is little guidance on the uphill journey of life. Despite...

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