"Mother to Son" Ideas Web

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Mother to Son Ideas Web

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Activity Overview


Another way for students to study the poem’s figurative meaning is to explore multiple interpretations of Hughes’ symbolic language. While it is clear that the staircase in the poem represents life, the specific meaning of the “tacks”, “carpet”, “landings” etc. is left to the reader’s imagination. Have students build analytical skills by focusing on a single line and imagining several symbolic interpretations for it. The storyboard above provides an example.


"Mother to Son" Ideas Web

"It's had tacks in it"

  • The tacks could represent times she was in physical pain.

  • The tacks could symbolize emotional pain.

  • The tacks might represent obstacles that she had to avoid.



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