This research is being carried out to evaluate and present the relationship in terms of the lessons taught by a black mother to her son and the way she raised him through two chosen poems – “Mother to Son” by Hughes and “Dear Mama” by Shakur…
This research will begin with the statement that the struggle of the Afro Americans even after their Emancipation from slavery has been the theme of many works of literature. The struggles of blacks also affected the family relations. Langston Hughes’ poem “Mother to Son” essentially illustrates a mother’s sermon to her son who is probably in his growing years. She teaches him by giving examples from her life. The poem belongs to the Harlem Renaissance period which celebrated the culture of the Afro Americans who came up to cultivate their talents in art and literature. Hughes’ poems are normally characterized by “a strong black racial consciousness and folk aesthetic…reflect a black perspective and point of view”. The poem highlights the essence of this period, using the “black vernacular” where the mother encourages her son to move forward and not to look back in life just as the black heritage was moving forward. The poem, therefore, depicts a certain awakening and motivation. This inspirational piece addresses the struggles of blacks. She begins by saying that life was not very easy for her – “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair”. There were hazards which brought about pain in her life and here the poet uses figurative language to compare hazards with “tacks” and “splinters”. She says there was “no carpet on the floor – Bare” which depicts that she had no shelter or place to rest and this signifies isolation. Yet, she says that life moved on as time passed by. She came across “landin’s” and “turnin’ corners”... Here she says that despite all odds she has managed to reach some of her goals (landin’s) and she tried to live differently with time or put her hands on new things (turning corners). She says that there was darkness where she traveled and there has been no light. Perhaps she means traveling alone or in a foreign land and her difficulty also brings out her courage and faith for a better future. She advises her son not to “set down on the steps” while climbing the stairs of life. She says that despite the difficulties, he should not fall because she is still going on with her life and it is still not a “crystal stair”. A mother shares her experience with her son such that he later gains some motivation from the same and this might help him move forward in life. She is aware that being a black boy he will also be facing troubles like herself, but he needs to keep his faith and courage to face the troubles and meet his goals. This is a one-sided sermon and no proper interaction has been shown between the two characters. The son’s presence is silent. So one would not actually know what the reaction of the son is and if he feels motivated and inspired. The song “Dear Mama” is basically a tribute from a son to his mother and is the autobiography of a son written in appreciation of his “mama” – it is a “thank-you to Afeni for her hard work as a single mother”. This poem also shows the struggles of the blacks and in essence the woman. He did not have his father by his side but his mother who was treated badly by her husband did not leave her children alone despite the fact that the son finally could not make her proud. ...
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Langston Hughes was one of the most prominent writers of the Harlem Renaissance. His poems have contributed immensely to the enriching of the body of African American literature. It has also enabled many people to conceive of a nation where people of African origin may live without feeling that they are in any way inferior to people of other races.
Langston Hughes emerged with the Harlem Renaissance and served as one of its more prominent members. As a gifted person, Hughes was able to contribute to poetry, novels, plays, music, social causes and the evolving movement for African American civil rights. Hughes’s poetry prominently reflects changing attitudes.
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