By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)
Langston Hughes (1901-67) was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance in New York in the 1920s. Over the course of a varied career he was a novelist, playwright, social activist, and journalist, but it is for his poetry that Hughes is now best-remembered.
‘Mother to Son’ is one of Hughes’ best-known poems, and sees a mother addressing her son, telling him about how hard and challenging her life has been, and offering him some parental advice. You can read ‘Mother to Son’ here (it takes no longer than a minute to read); below, we offer an analysis of the poem’s meaning and symbolism.