Langston Hughes 1902 - 1967
Martin Luther King, Jr. "I Have a Dream" delivered August, 28 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. Major events during Langston Hughes’ lifetime: The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965 1920 - 19th Amendment gives women right to vote 1929 - Stock Market crashes / The Great Depression Dec. 7, 1941 - Japan surprise attack on Pearl Harbor / Start of WWII 1955 - Blacks boycott buses in Montgomery 1955 -Supreme Court orders school desegregation 1960-65 -Civil Rights movement 1963 – President Kennedy assassinated
While in Africa, Hughes met a child ignored by whites & blacks; he based his play “Mulatto” on this child.
Africa to Paris • Wro Roaring 20s, Hughes worked nights in a Paris Jazz club.
Paris to Italy I, Too, Sing America by Langston Hughes I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong. Tomorrow, I'll be at the table When company comes. Nobody'll dare Say to me, "Eat in the kitchen,” Then. Besides, They'll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed --I, too, am America.
1924, LANGSTON HUGHES returned U.S. to live in Harlem during a period known as the 'Harlem Renaissance.’ "I tried to write poems like the songs they sang on Seventh Street... (these songs) had the pulse beat of the people who keep on going." His poems tell of the joys and miseries of the ordinary black man in America.
Returns to college attending Lincoln University, Pennsylvania earns a B.A. degree in 1929. 1930, Hughes publishes his novel, Not Without Laughter, The Dream Keeper and Other Poems
Major Accomplishments • He wrote 16 books of poetry • 2 novels • 3 collections of short stories • 4 volumes of "editorial" and "documentary" fiction • 20 plays, • children's poetry, • musicals and operas, • 3 autobiographies, • a dozen radio and television scripts • and dozens of magazine articles. • He died in 1967 from cancer.
Mother to Son by Langston Hughes Well, son, I'll tell you:Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.It's had tacks in it,And splinters,And boards torn up,And places with no carpet on the floor --Bare.But all the timeI'se been a-climbin' on, And reachin' landin's,And turnin' corners,And sometimes goin' in the dark Where there ain't been no light.So boy, don't you turn back.Don't you set down on the steps'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.Don't you fall now --For I'se still goin', honey,I'se still climbin',And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
Metaphor Like most writers, Langston Hughes uses figurative language to express his ideas. In his poem “Mother to Son” Hughes uses metaphor to convey his message. A metaphor is a comparison that does not use the words “like” or “as.” In line two of “Mother to Son”, Hughes writes “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.” Write down your interpretation of this line.
Metaphor Like most writers, Langston Hughes uses figurative language to express ideas in his work. In his poem “Mother to Son” Hughes uses metaphor to convey his message. A metaphor is a comparison that does not use the words “like” or “as.” In line two of “Mother to Son”, Hughes writes “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.” Hughes makes the initial comparison between life and “crystal stair in this line. He continues the poem within that metaphor by symbolizing the hardships of life through a damaged staircase.
Interpretation Line(s) -Meaning Mother to Son - A message from a mother to her son. Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair - Life has not been beautiful, transparent, or easy for the mother. It hasn’t been an easy climb. It’s had tacks in it, / And splinters, - Tacks and splinters are hazards that can cause pain, just like hazards and obstacles in life. And boards torn up, - The torn up boards represent damage, obstacles, and hardships in life. And places with no carpet on the floor – / Bare. - This creates the image of being cold, naked and isolated. It creates a mood of loneliness. .
More Interpretations But all the time / I’se been a-climbin’ on - These two lines push the idea of consistency and endurance in life. And reachin’ landin’s - This represents achieving goals in life. The landing is a point of triumph. And turnin’ corners, -Turning corners means trying new things. And sometimes goin’ in the dark -Going in the dark can represent courage and faith. Where there ain’t been no light. -No light represents unexplored and foreign territory. So, boy, don’t you turn back. -Don’t run away from life. Don’t you set down on the steps. -Don’t give up.
Still More Interpretations ‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard. - Because it is hard. Don’t you fall now - Don’t get weak. For I’se still goin’, honey, / I’se still climbin’ - She is showing her son it can be done and she is the example. And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair. - It wasn’t easy for the mother either. ***This is not the only interpretation, just the way that it is most widely interpreted.