Where, if any, are the following poetic techniques in "Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes?  Satire, sound techniques, personification, simile, hyperbole, irony.

Expert Answers
mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I can't find any examples of similes in the poem; similes are where you compare two things using the words "like" or "as."  Something very similar though, is a metaphor--it is the exact same thing, but doesn't need the signal word of like or as.  The entire poem is packed with metaphors, all centered around the main one of comparing life to a set of stairs that one must climb.

There are also no examples of personification, where you give inanimate objects human traits.  For hyperbole, look for examples of extreme exaggeration.  The mother is quite intense, and exaggerates; she compares her life to being in the dark, getting torn up and worn down, and filled with never-ending trial and sorrow.  If there is satire, it is of a very serious sort, that comments on the hardships that black Americans had to go through in life.  The mother's life had been very, very hard, and she passed that down to her son, warning him of the difficulties.  Satire usually comments on society, making judgments about it.

For sound techniques, Hughes uses dialect, a bit of rhyming ("stair/bare,"), and repetition.  Those are just a few examples of some of the techniques that you asked about.  I hope that helps you get started; good luck!

alundberg | Student

In keeping with what the previous responder said, there are no similes, but the entire poem is an extended metaphor where the mother compares her life to a set of stairs that is splintered and weathered.  These flaws in the stairs represent the setbacks and obstacles she's encountered in her life.