SSLC English Unit 5- Chapter 2 Textual Question Answer, Appreciation Of the Poem Mother to Son

Anas Nadubail

Textual Question, Answer

1. Who is the speaker in the poem? Do you feel the presence of a listener? How?
Mother. Yes. She addresses her son.
2. What does the expression ‘no crystal stair’ mean?
 The expression suggests that life is not a crystal stair.
3. Was life easy for the narrator? Pick out evidence from this stanza to support your answer.
No. 'It's had tacks in it and splinters and boards torn up'.
4. The first stanza ends with the word ‘bare’. What does the speaker mean by the word ‘bare’?
 'Bare' suggests scant furnishings. It could mean the stark poverty that they experienced in life.
5. When life becomes challenging, does the speaker give up? How do you know?
 No. Mother repeats 'But all the time I'se been a - climbin on'.
6. What do the phrases ‘turnin’ corners’ and ‘set down on the steps’ mean?
'turnin' corners' represent moments when life takes a different turn. '...don't you set down on the steps' suggests that he should not give up even if he finds life difficult. On the other hand he has to face the challenge.

Appreciation of the Poem Mothers to Son

The poem ‘Mother to Son' is written by the very well-known American poet and social activist Langston Hughes. He was one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance, a movement which pave the way for the social and intellectual enlightenment of the Negro community. This is a dramatic monologue composed in Free Verse style. In this monologue poem, the speaker is the mother and the son is a passive listener. The tone of the poem is didactic - that is advising and encouraging the son to face the difficulties of life.

The mother is an Afro-American woman and appears to be very poor and uneducated or illiterate. the mother talks to her son about her miserable life experiences. She compares her life to a crystal stair and says that her life has never been as luxurious, comfortable, or beautiful as a crystal stair. Her stair of life is full of tacks, splinters and is made up of torn-up boards, which means that her life is difficult, sorrowful, and poverty-stricken. Her struggles for existence have never been easy. Her life has always been painful and bare of all comforts. While climbing the life’s stairs, very rarely only she reaches a landing place - gets a comfortable time. Most often she has to turn corners and sometimes she reaches in complete darkness without any light. She means that sometimes she reaches completely in hopeless and helpless situations with- out having anyone to help. But even in her old age, she has never given up hopes or hard work. She wants her son also to work hard and face challenges in life boldly.

The mother advises her son not to tum back or sit down or fall down on the steps of the life’s stairs. he also encourages him to face the difficulties and to succeed in life looking at her and learning lessons from her life.

The poem is in Free Verse so that it has no consistent stanza system, no rhyme scheme, or no metric pattern (consistency in line length). The major poetic device used in the poem is the metaphor staircase. Langston Hughes has used the extended metaphor of staircase throughout the poem to describe the mother’s life. The language of the poem is an Afro-American dialect, which depicts the mother’s backwardness, poverty, and illiteracy. Examples of Alliteration can be seen in the line “Don't you set down on the steps’. Also, there is an example of Assonance in the line “So boy don't you turn back” where the vowel sound /o/ is repeated. Examples of Anaphora can also be seen in the poem, by which the word ‘And' is repeated consecutively at the beginning of several lines. The poem is full of images like spliters, tacks, steps etc. repetition of the line “life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” which has
created a musical quality in the poem.

Poetic Device used in the Poem Mothers to Son

The repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables. For example “Don 't you set down on the steps’
Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /o/ in “So boy, don’t you turn back”.
Imagery is used to make readers perceive things with their five sense. For example, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair”, “And places with no carpet on the floor” and “Don’t you set down on the steps.”
It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects different in nature. Langston has used an extended metaphor to compare the mother’s life to a staircase (crystal stair) throughout the poem.
Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings different from literal meanings. Similarly, “Staircase” symbolizes hardships. It also symbolizes the life that we spend.
There is a repetition of the line “life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” which has created a musical quality in the poem. It has also created rhetorical impacts in the poem. Refrain: The lines that are repeated again at some distance in the poems are called refrains. The line, “life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” is repeated with the same words, it has become a refrain on account of its repetition.
The allusion is a belief and an indirect reference to a person, place, thing or idea of a historical, cultural, political or literary significance. He has used this device in the opening line of the poem such as, "Crystal Stair" refers to Jacob's stair from the Old Testament in The Bible.

Mother to Son  Extra Questions and Answers

1 Who is the speaker in the poem? 
The speaker in the poem is an African American mother.

2 Do you feel the presence of a listener? How?
Yes, we can feel the presence of a listener, her son. The mother is giving advice to her son.

3 What does ‘no crystal stair’ mean?
Crystal is a solid substance with proper shapes. It also means strong transparent glass. So the phrase ‘no crystal stair’ means the stairs of life are not smooth, plain and clear. Life is hard.

4 Was life easy for the narrator? Pick out evidence from the first stanza to support your answer.
No, Life was not easy for the speaker. Life for her was not a crystal stair. It had tacks and splinters. Boards were torn up and not carpeted.

5 The first stanza ends with the word ‘bare ’. What does the speaker mean by the word ‘bare’?
‘Bare’ means naked or exposed. She did not have enough clothes or shoes to wear. Her life was bare, just like the stair was bare without any carpet. It hints at her poverty.

6 When life becomes challenging, does the speaker give up? How do you know?
No, she doesn’t. Because she says, all the time she had been climbing on the staircase

7 What do the phrases ‘turnin’ comers’ and ‘set down on the steps ’ mean?
“Turnin’ corners” means sudden changes happening in life. ‘Set down’ means ‘sit down’. The mother, who is a Black Woman, is asking her son not to sit down on the step because it will lead to disappointment.

8 The speaker speaks of the ‘dark times’. What does the poet refer to here?
‘Dark times’ refers to the hardships in life. As the mother says she was sometimes going in the dark where there was no light. Often she had to travel without a ray of hope.

9 What advice does the speaker give? Pick out the relevant line from the poem.
The advice she gives is not to turn back, not to sit down on the steps, and not to fall. “Boy, don’t you turn back. Don’t you set down on the steps. Don’t, you fall now.”

10 With what message does the poem end?
The poem ends with the message to go forward and face the challenges in life in spite of the problems. The obstacles should not stop us from going ahead.

11 pick out an instance of alliteration from the poem
set down on the steps (here the letter “s” is repeated)

12 what do the tacks and splinters on the staircase symbolise?
They represent the difficulties and challenges in life.

13 what is the theme of the poem?
The theme of the poem is that we should not lose hope in life, we should never give up, we must face the challenges in life 

14 what dialect of English is used in the poem?
Afro American dialect of English

15 pick out some of the images used in the poem 
tacks, splinters, steps, etc.

16 pick out an instance of metaphor from the stanza
life for me ain’t been no crystal stair

17 do you think the poem is an example of dramatic monologue? Why?
Yes, the poem is a dramatic monologue, the black mother is the speaker and the son is the silent listener in the poem

18 pick out examples of Afro-American dialects used in the poem 
“life for me ain’t been no crystal stair and  I’se been climbing on 
are examples of Afro-American dialect used in the poem.

19 pick out an example of assonance used in the poem.
“So boy, don’t you turn back”(repeating the sound “o”)

20 which is the refrain used in the poem?
“life for me ain’t been no crystal stair”

21 is the poem an example of free verse?
Yes, the poem is written in free verse as there is no specific rhyme scheme or meter.

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