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Never Giving Up in Mother to Son and Dreams by Langston Hughes

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Introduction

Both poems share a common theme but Langston Hughes uses different literary devices to express the theme of never giving up. In “Mother to Son,” the author uses a first person point of view to explain someone’s struggles in life. In the poem “Dreams,” the author uses third person and it is a lot shorter than the other poem. “Mother to Son” is a lot longer than “Dreams”, therefor, “Mother to son” has more detail. Both poems express the theme of never giving up but the author, Langston Hughes, has different ways of expressing it.

Mother to Son

“Mother to son” expresses the common theme by using dialogue. The mother was explaining how life was difficult for her but she pushed through. In the poem it states, “Well, son, I’ll tell you: / Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.” This shows that the mother was explaining how in her life she went through hard times but she always got through it. According to Gale, “After an epigraph from Hughes’s poem ‘Mother to Son’–‘Well, son, I’ll tell you: / Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair’ – Ottley opens his book by reminding readers of Harlem’s exemplary role in progressive social movements, while reiterating the familiar theme of its cosmopolitanism” (Lowney) This shows that the author wanted to show that life can be more difficult because of the social pyramid. People go through different challenges in life depending on where you stand in society, but no matter how difficult life may be, Langston Hughes wants the reader to know to never give up.

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Dreams

In the poem “Dreams,” the author expressed the theme by using third person point of view. Even though the theme of the poems are expressed in different ways they both still express the theme of never giving up. In the poem “Dreams,” it states, “Hold fast to dreams/ For if dreams die / Life is a broken winged bird” (Hughes 1-3) This shows that the author tells the reader that life is difficult without having any characters. According to Gale, “These dreams represent the range of social-class aspirations that divide the Harlem of Montage, but they coalesce within the volume’s signature sound of frustration” (Lowney). This proves that the author believed in equality.

Comparison

Both poems express the common theme of never giving up. Even though both poems use different literary devices, they both depict a common theme. The theme that both of these poems express is to never give up. The poems do have some common ways of expressing the theme. For example, both poems use metaphors to express the theme. In the poem “Mother to Son” it states, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” (Hughes 2). This means that life is not a perfect staircase. In the poem “Dreams” it states, “Life is a broken-winged bird / that cannot fly” (Hughes 3-4). This means that the bird has lost its purpose and cannot do what it is supposed to do. The two poems both use metaphors to show that you should never give up.

Conclusion

Both poems share a common theme but Langston Hughes uses different literary devices to express it in both poems. “Mother to Son” uses dialogue, while “Dreams” uses 3rd person point of view. The author expresses the theme of not giving up in each poem. Even though the theme is expressed in different ways, metaphors are used in both poems. The two poems are very motivational and inspiring for the reader.

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