Langston Hughes: Poems

what is the theme of mother to son

what is the theme of mother to son

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While Langston Hughes's tone is softer than that of Malcolm X or the Black Panthers (not surprising, since Hughes lived in a different era), he has his own way of denouncing racism and depicting the oppression that African Americans experienced at the hands of the patriarchal system. He alludes to lost and forgotten aspirations, insinuating that African Americans are not allowed access to the American Dream because of their race. In “Mother to Son,” the mother describes the various vicissitudes she has faced, exacerbated or directly caused by the color of her skin.


While the word “wisdom” does not specifically occur this particular collection of Langston Hughes's poems, he clearly alludes to its attainment in many places. Hughes shows wisdom being passed down through generations, such as the mother who tells her son to never give up, even when the road is hard. Wisdom is a result of experience, and can inform one's decision to persevere in the face of adversity. Courage can lead to wisdom - there is priceless knowledge to be gained from confronting one's demons. Finding a mode of expression for sorrow - like music or poetry - is a form of wisdom in that a person can learn how to separate him or herself from bad experiences.