While Gwendolyn Brooks, like Langston Hughes, closely examines life in poor urban black culture (as is perhaps best exemplified in her poem "We Real Cool"), Brooks far exceeds Hughes in her examination of the female experience.
In poems such as "To Be in Love," Brooks divorces the experience of being poor and black with that of being a woman, examining only what it is like to be female and in love. Her speaker describes the experience: "You are the beautiful half / Of a golden hurt. / You remember his mouth / To touch, to whisper on." Her understanding of what it means to be a woman in love is that of being part of something so beautiful that it's painful, being part of the keeping of secrets.
Brooks also examines issues of womanhood in conjunction with issues of poverty. Her treatment of abortion in "The Mother" is a perfect example of this. While there is much overlap between Brooks's and Hughes's poetry, especially in their examination of what it means to be black, Brooks diverges from and expands upon those themes in her consideration of what it means to be a woman as well.