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Poems Analysis: Mother to Son. We Wear the Mask.

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925 words
University of Richmond
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1. Mother to Son

Langston's poem mother to son entails a mother addressing her son. On the other hand, the poet has taken time to answer what it seemed to be an answer she is giving to her child. From the poem, its evident to argue that the mother is trying to caution the child about something. The writer is giving the readers an attitude of pressing up whatever the circumstances. In the poem, the mother has undergone a lot of challenges which she tries to explain to the son which is also an identity of a positive attachment between the two.

Langston has also considered the use of many poetic stylistic devices. Its primary purpose is to give the poem its distinct flow. On the contrary, the writer has not taken into consideration of achieving a rhythm in his lines which provides it with an implication of an irregular pattern. The stylistic devices that Hughes has used include the use of a metaphor, imagery, and symbolism. Symbolism is derived from the poem by the use of words like splinters, floor, tacks, staircase and unlit corners.

On the other hand, a metaphor comes in when the writer uses a staircase to show the different levels of life she went through. (Wordsworth, 1970). He uses an example of a staircase where one passes through one step to the other. It is derived from the last line in the poem, And life for me aint been no crystal stair. (Robert, 2000). The writer went through much difficulties which later turned to be good. To give a clear image to the reader, she uses words like boards torn up and no carpet on the floor.

Similarly, the mothers background was economically down. In their home, they lacked much where they had no carpet on the floor, and the boards were torn up. Sometimes she could see a brighter future ahead giving her the motivation pressing on, seen in the ninth line. I've been a-climbing on. Later, the hopes she had built could still disappear in the dark, but she always did not give up.

On the same note, the mother uses the most straightforward language which the child could easily understand. She refers to the child to a boy which implicates an emphasis on her intended message. The womans level of education can be regarded to be low. She often uses native language in her statements to the child. Repetition of the word and gives room for the woman to fix her words showing a flow of her remarks.

In conclusion, a poem has played a significant impact on the society at large. A good example is where the woman felt like the journey was tiresome and stiff for her but in the long run, she persistently pressed on. She encourages people to continually work hard and not to focus on that which has taken place in the past. So boy, dont you turn back. (Robert, 2000). However much the challenges the boy could undergo in his life, the mother did not want him to fall. Fall in this context can be used to show problems which he might encounter. Langston uses the mother to the son as a role model to her son and society at large.

2. We wear the mask

In the second poem, Paul Laurence addresses the different kinds of oppression blacks face. The blacks tend to be suffering from the types of torture they undergo as slaves. All his ideas came about from what he saw and decided to pen it down in his poetic work. He repeatedly uses we wear the mask to put an emphasis. American Africans of happiness was a complete opposite and irony.

The writers idea of wearing a mask portrayed that something was hidden. The hood, on the other hand, was regarded to as the Africans who were suffering. In his poem, he addresses the human race in general. Dunbars song has more than once used the word we which insinuates that he referred to the society in general. Consequently, the world being over wise denied the attention of those faced injustices (Harrell, 2013).

However, the poem has put into consideration the use of different stylistic devices. For instance, repetition where he continuously uses the word we wear the mask and us. He creates a rhyme scheme in every sentence. It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes (Harrell, 2013) is a line which the poet uses an imagery where one could read an attitude or feel towards a particular situation or concept. Paul continues to expose the truth behind the mask in the fourth line. The bleeding heart he talks about gives an identity of the persistent toiling to make all ends meet.

As discussed above, Dunbar puts together all the kinds of suffering blacks underwent. The Americans put a happy face towards Africans which in real sense wasnt the truth. Also, the poets ideas were from the circumstances he underwent and himself being black. Paul gives the mask the traits of a human being like it lies, shades our eyes. In can further be argued that these poem has created a moral lesson to the society at large and also enlightened the people. The writer's goals have been achieved through all his work.


Work Cited

Harrell, Willie J. We Wear the Mask: Paul Laurence Dunbar and the Politics of Representative Reality. Kent State University Press, 2013.

Pinsky, Robert, and Maggie Dietz. Americans' Favorite Poems: The Favorite Poem Project Anthology. , 2000.

Wordsworth, William, and W M. Merchant. Poetry & Prose. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970.


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