What is the extended metaphor described in lines 2-7?
While the extended metaphor in Langston Hughes's "Mother to Son" is established in lines 2-7, it ends up being the central focus of the entire poem. The poem begins with a "mother" character addressing her "son," establishing the metaphor by telling him what her life was not, stating "Life for me ain't been no crystal stair" (2). The mother establishes the true metaphor as the exact opposite of a crystal stairway. She says that her life has "had tacks in it, / And splinters, / And boards torn up, / And places with no carpet on the floor- / Bare" (3-7). Thus, life is still compared to a stairway via metaphor, but the mother's "stairway" is broken, hazardous, and, in places, laid bare. She very clearly establishes that life has not been easy on her. However, despite her troubles, she expresses the firmness of purpose exhibited in much of Hughes's poetry by stating that she has "been a-climbin’ on, / And reachin’ landin’s, / And turnin’ corners" despite the difficulty of the climb (9-11). She has no plans to give up, nor does she want her son to "give up," "set down on the steps," or "fall now" on his own stairway, no matter how hard it may get to continue (14-17).
check Approved by eNotes Editorial