On the road of life, many trials arise that one must overcome to make his or her life feel complete. In Langston Hughes's poem, "Mother to Son,” these trials are a subject of concern for one mother. Hughes' "ability to project himself” is seen in his use of dialect, metaphors, and tone (Barksdale 3).
Although the dialect by itself does not seem to be an important quality, however, "when it is presented with all dramatic skill”, it is important (Barksdale 3). In "Mother to Son”, Hughes uses dialect to show that the mother is not as well educated as many people. When she says phrases such as "For I'se still goin', honey,” it is understood that she means that she is still going, even though it is not clearly said (Hughes 232). The dialect may also show what area she may live in. When she talks about "boards torn up” it shows that she was from the poor part of the town. It does not seem relevant that she has torn up boards, but these are not found in a wealthy person's mansion (Hughes 232). Although the grammar of this dialect is wrong, it makes the woman seem more like a real person and less like someone who is fictional. .
Another quality that is prevalent in this poem is its metaphors. The extended metaphor, which is a metaphor that is stated and then developed throughout the poem, is that the mother believes that "Life for [her] ain't been no crystal stair” (Hughes 232). By explaining this to her son, she says that her life has not been fancy or easy, but she is getting by. While climbing her stairs she is "reachin' landin's, / and turnin' corners, / and sometimes goin' in the dark” (Hughes 232). Although these are "homely” things someone may face on a staircase, they actually mean things that she has encountered in her life (Emanuel 148). She says that she reaches landings, which means that she has come up on place where she could rest. When she says she turns corners, it is when her life changes and she has to turn away from her original path.