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Langston Hughes’ “Mother to Son” & “Harlem” Poems

Lorraine Hansberry’s play titled A Raisin in the Sun demonstrates readiness to challenge typical representations of minority families in theatrical pieces. The play has connections with two poems by Hughes, “Mother to Son” and “Harlem.” In his poem titled “Mother to Son,” Hughes refers to the exchange of experiences between different generations of African-Americans. In particular, the mother tells her son that her life has always been full of hardships and difficulties linked to her social position and then encourages him to continue her fight later in life (Hughes, “Mother to Son”).

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This poem is related to Act 1 of Hansberry’s play because both works introduce a strong female character that is respected due to her age and experiences. In Act 1, the reader is told that Mama has become the oldest and most respected person in the family after becoming a widow (Hansberry 30). Mama has two adult children, and, despite her age, she is willing to continue working and save enough money to buy a house for her family. Thus, both the mother and Mama are depicted as strong, wise, and self-sacrificing women.

Another poem by Hughes connected to Hansberry’s famous play is “Harlem.” This short work is devoted to the future of dreams that are not destined to come true and offers multiple figurative comparisons. Thus, the author compares “a dream deferred” to a raisin that dries up in the sun, a sore, a piece of rotten meat, and other objects (Hughes, “Harlem”). Hansberry uses one of these literary devices as a title to demonstrate that dreams are fragile, especially when you belong to a discriminated minority.

In Act 1, Hansberry’s characters often reflect on the chances to realize their goals in life. For instance, as Walter says, “Man says to his woman: I got me a dream, and his woman say: eat your eggs” (Hansberry 33). Therefore, both literary works highlight that it is difficult to turn dreams into reality, but refusing to do so does not make life safer and better.

Works Cited

Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. Vintage Books, 1994.

Hughes, Langston. “Harlem.Poetry Foundation. Web.

Hughes, Langston. “Mother to Son.Poetry Foundation. Web.

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