What are the similarities in the advices that the parents offer their sons in “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes and “Advice to My Son” by J. Peter Meinke? What are their circumstances?
In Langston Hughes’s poem “Mother to Son,” the speaker tells her son that life will be difficult, but he must keep going anyway. She explains that her life has been hard—“no crystal stair.” Her life has not been one of privilege. She has had to deal with many obstacles, but she never let them stop her. She always keeps climbing up that staircase of life, past the splinters and worn boards. The speaker advises her son to never give in just because something is difficult, because that’s how life is. The overall message is to keep trying, no matter how many obstacles life throws at you.
In Peter Meinke’s “Advice to My Son,” the speaker advises his son to appreciate everything life has to offer. He advises the son to live for today but think about tomorrow. It is important to “plan long range” so that the future will not be worrisome. The speaker says it’s important to be practical: plant crops you can eat in between the beautiful flowers you can enjoy. He also wants his son to be honest and “show your soul” while working with others. The takeaway is to think for the future but enjoy every minute of life—“always serve wine.”
The two speakers are similar in that they both wish to advise their sons about the future so they don’t make mistakes. The main difference is in the speakers’ circumstances: one endures a harsh life and must constantly struggle to keep a foothold, while the other seems quite comfortable in life and finds ways to appreciate little indulgences.
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