Compare the stairway of the mother's life with his son
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Hughes then develops the metaphor of a staircase further, as the mother describes the challenges in her life using symbols like tacks, splinters, uncarpeted floor, and dark, unlit corners. She exhorts her son not to turn back, because she never will. By using the metaphor of the staircase, Hughes alludes to Jacob's Ladder. The Mother character is on a difficult and arduous uphill journey, hoping that if she endures her struggles she can eventually ascend to the highest "Promised Land."