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Hughes creates the metaphor in the beginning of the poem, when he writes, "Life for me ain't been no crystal stair." The strong imagery, the picture created in the reader's head of acrystal stair, is the opposite of what the speaker has experienced.
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The first line of the poem orients us to the speaker of the poem: a mother, talking to her son. The poem begins with the mother speaking in metaphor, comparing her life to a staircase. The imagery of a “crystal stair” can be associated with a perfect life where everything goes right.
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