Press "Enter" to skip to content

The Road Not Taken Vs. Mother To Son


Paths are Like Stairs

Although they portray two very different writing styles, Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and Langston Hughes’s “Mother to Son” have a few things in common, especially their meanings.

In “The Road not Taken” Frost speaks of a time in his life where he had to make a choice, a choice of which direction his life was about to go: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood / And sorry I could not travel both” (1-2). “Mother to Son” also speaks of life in a metaphorical way, but as a staircase rather than two paths: “Well, son, I’ll tell you / Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” (1-2).

Later in “The Road Not Taken” Frost describes the appearance of each road, one as being less traveled on than the other by people before him who had to make the same decision: “And looked down one as far as I could / Then took the other, just as fair / Because it was grassy and wanted wear” (4,6,8). “Mother to Son” takes it another step as to describe the staircase the mother had to climb. She explains how hard it was but also how she never gave up: “It’s had tacks in it / And splinters / And boards torn up / But all the time / I’se been a-climbin’ on” (3-5,8-9).

“The Road Not Taken” ends by giving a moral to us about Frost’s life and the path he did take. Although Frost doesn’t thoroughly explain the path he took, the reader gets the impression it was one of integrity and hard work because the majority of people took the easy way out instead: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I / I took the one less traveled by / And that has made all the difference” (18-20). “Mother to Son” also ends with a moral, a moral to her son. She tells him how hard the climb was and how she is still climbing to this day and that’s what he will have to do. She warns him never to rest or be content where he is at and never to fall off the staircase of life: “Don’t you set down on the steps / Don’t you fall now / For I’se still goin’, honey / I’se still climin'” (15,17-19).

The writing styles in these two poems are very different as you can see. Hughes uses a lot of slang while Frost is rather proper in his word use and sentence structure. But the moral of these two poems are the same. Whether it be a path or a staircase, there is always an easy way out. But taking that easy way might not be the best decision. Tough paths take more effort to walk just as tough staircases take longer to climb, but they both build character and that makes it all worth while.


Work Cited


Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” Literature and the Writing Process.

Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. 5th ed. Upper

Saddle River: Prentice, 1999. 567


Hughes, Langston. “Mother to Son.” Literature and the Writing Process.

Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. 5th ed. Upper

Saddle River: Prentice, 1999. 587