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“The Negro Mother” Analysis

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“The Negro Mother” Analysis

  1. 1. Sirimas Somboon English 12 “The Negro Mother” Analysis Langston’s Hughes’ “The Negro Mother” is a lyrical poem about a negro motheraddressing to her sons about her struggles in her past life. The poem displays a passionatejourney of a woman striving for the rights and equality of the African-American people asshe elaborates her emotions to show the hardship she has been through. In addition to her pastexperience the narrator uses her struggle as a reminder for her son about the struggles herselfand their ancestors have gone through in order to encourage them to continue their fight. Inthe poem, the poet uses of the narrator’s diction, oxymoron and metaphor to portray thetheme of how African Americans should always strive to fight for their rights and equality insociety. Initially the poet’s use of diction creates a tone that urges African Americans to strivefor their equality in society. In the beginning of the poem, the poet emphasizes on the usageof the words such as “dark”(5), “night”(5), “labored” (11), “slave”(11) and “mistreated”(12)to express how oppressed and subjugated the Black People are, especially under the racismand discrimination. The diction contributes to the hardship and the abusive situation that thenarrator must face throughout the course of her strive for freedom. On the contrary, as thepoem progresses, the poet uses a positive tone to counteract the miserable tone that wasdepicted in the beginning of the poem. Diction such as “torch for tomorrow”(36), “road to thelight”(37) and “look ever upward at the sun and the stars” (46) creates a hopeful and relievingtone that corresponds to the negative tone, giving a message that even if the futuregenerations of Black People have to face the hardship of being discriminated and mistreated,there will always be hope for them as long as they fight like the narrator. The narrator claimsherself as “the seed for the coming Free”(28), the “Free”(28) is capitalize in order toemphasize the important dreams as the narrator “nourished”(29) the dream “deep in my[Negro mother] breast”(30). Moreover, the narrator claim that “God” (16) “put a dream likesteel in my [Negro mother’s] soul,”(17) in which the word “steel”(17) is a strong and stableobject, by comparing the “steel”(17) to the “dream” (17), the dream was settled. Furthermore,the narrator “had only hope then,” but she wishes through the young generation, she used astrong diction of “must” (32) to emphasize the needs to fulfil her dream by “stand[ing] likefree men supporting my [negro mother’s] trust” (40) In addition, oxymoron is also used in the poem to show the contrast between theharshness of reality that puts down the narrator and the narrator’s will and effort to findequality. For example, when the narrator “couldnt read then. couldnt write./ [she] hadnothing, back there in the night” (21-22) and as “Sometimes, the valley was filled withtears”/she would still “[keep] trudging on through the lonely years”(23-24). Furthermore,there is a contrast between the darkness of the African-American’s treatment and theiroptimistic encouragement towards their goals in achieving grand equality. The narrator usedher struggles as a reminder for the young African-American people as she reminded them ofher “sweat,” (34) “pain” (34), “despair” (34) and years, heavy with sorrow/ and make thoseyear a torch for tomorrow/make[s] of my pass a road to the light/Out of the darkness, theignorance, the night”(36-38). The contrast is shown as she struggles with the variousdramatic obstacles in life and as the negativity is put down on her, she would still keepwalking and moving forward to fight for a better place, both for her and her people. Thecontrast between the negative force and the narrator’s will power shows the narrator’s intentto inspire the black people to not give up their goals of being free. Finally, the poet employs metaphors to further elaborate the message of how theAfrican American people should not give up their rights and equality. By taking the
  2. 2. figurative meaning of certain contexts from the poem, the revelation of the poet’s messagewill be exposed, such as “Sometimes, the road was hot with the sun/But I had to keep on tillmy work was done” (25-26). The metaphorical meaning of the road that was “hot with thesun”(25) relates the obstacles that the narrator had to face. The sun’s connotation correlates tothe hardship and all the troublesome path that the narrator has been through. Likewise, thenarrator says “make those years a torch for tomorrow/Make of my pass a road to the light”(36-37), which simply connotes the fact that the narrator’s struggle is worthwhile as her andtheir ancestor’s effort become another step of “great stair” (48) to win the equality of theAfrican American will be a goal of this long effort. The use of this figurative language is tocreate an elaboration of the feelings of the narrator and her intentions to show both of thehardship that she’s been through, and the intent that will inspire the further generations. As a result, through the use of diction, oxymoron and metaphors, the poet achieves inexpressing the message the narrator is trying to imply: the pursue for equality of the BlackPeople should not be given up, but should be in pursue regardless of the hardship untilabsolute equality is achieved.

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