Thank You Ma Am


Character Analysis of Roger in Thank You Ma’am by Langston Hughes

December 10, 2020 by Essay Writer

“Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes is about a boy named Roger. In the beginning of the story Roger steals from a woman named Mrs. Jones and attempts to steal her purse. Roger fails to do so, so the woman takes him to her house and teaches him a very valuable lesson “Do not steal”. I really understood the message Langston Hughes puts into this story and I think Roger does too. In the end, Roger basically starts out as a cold-hearted thief but works his way out and learns how to respect others and not to steal. Roger changes in to a different person in the end of the story.

I would think of Roger as a poor child and he had little money because in the story it states that he doesn’t have anyone at his house. Also the whole reason why Roger steals from Mrs. Jones is because he does not have enough money to buy his “Blue Suede Shoes” so he had to steal. Another example would be the description of his clothes and how his face and hair was all messy and dirty. The story states that Mrs. Jones had to tell Roger to wash his face and comb his hair to be presentable. In conclusion, Roger had very little money and because of that he had to steal.

I would also describe Roger as a respectful person towards the end of the story because when he was dragged to Mrs. Jones’s house you could already tell that he was going through a change. When he was there, he offered Mrs. Jones to buy some groceries from the store. Also, he had several chances to ditch her but he chose not to it was almost like he wanted to stay there. Whenever Mrs. Jones told a story, Roger listened and actually learned out of her stories. Roger actually learned respect from Mrs. Jones when he went to her house.

The last thing I would describe Roger is unthoughtful and he does not think before he does his actions. For example, when he tries to steal from Mrs. Jones, he doesn’t think about the outcomes of this action which supports that he is very unthoughtful. When he fails to steal the purse, he just loses his balance and falls. But Mrs. Jones teaches him to be more thoughtful and work for your own money instead of stealing and she also teaches him to be more respectful and thoughtful.

In conclusion, he basically learns the importance of respect and not to steal. I think all of the experiences in the story that happened to him will change his life and hopefully will make him more successful in the future. Even I taught a little something from the story, to work for the good things in life instead of stealing someone else’s hard-earned money like Roger did. So in the end, Roger becomes a better person all because of that one time when he stole Mrs. Jones’s purse. He learned to be respectful and not to steal.

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The Characterization of the Female Protagonists in the Short Stories Thank You Ma’am by Langston Hughes and Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

December 10, 2020 by Essay Writer

How the Female Protagonist is portrayed

Through the short stories “Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes and “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, the authors employ many exceptional techniques to characterize both leading female protagonists. In “Thank You Ma’am” Langston recounts Ms. Louella Bates Washington Jones with primarily indirect characterization as opposed to Chopin, whom characterizes predominantly with direct characterization. Inclusively, Hughes illustrates Ms. Jones as a strong-willed, unsympathetic, individualistic woman. Nonetheless, through all of these particular qualities, she remains understanding. Mrs. Mallard, however gets highlighted as disoriented, feeble-minded, and the unmitigated opposite of emotionally well-balanced. From the many techniques the authors portray the above stated female protagonists through facets of characterization, this makes apparent that both characters are highlighted to be emotionally restrained, centralized on independence, and disoriented.

The author elucidates how Ms. Jones “…simply turned around and kicked him right square in his blue-jeaned sitter,” then later Ms. Jones explains “I were young once, and I wanted things I could not get”; making these transitions in tone construct the image of Louella to be unsympathetic, nevertheless understanding. Because these two qualities are substantially contradicting, the author characterizes Louella as disoriented. Although a person may withhold the qualities of unsympathetic and understanding, they are entirely opposing characteristics by definition.

In this same way, Chopin states “Mrs. Mallard wept at once with sudden, paralyzed inability to accept its significance,” pertaining to her husband’s death, then later describes how she suddenly was enlightened that she was “free, free, free!” Although some may contest these two characters to be static, these examples prove that the characters are, in fact, dynamic characters. Louella’s change of heart in terms of her perception of Roger and Mrs. Mallard’s revelation of her newfound independence are plot twists that point to the character’s disoriented mental and/or emotional state and their qualifications to be round dynamic characters.

Ms. Louella’s wholehearted breakdown to Roger of her past and Mrs. Mallard’s sudden emotional breakdown contrived from her discovering her untouched independence highlight the two character’s qualities of being emotionally restrained. Hughes and Chopin both create this sudden burst of emotional release; this situational irony is to be caused by the character’s preceding bottling of their emotions.

The two female characters show how they centralize on independence as Ms. Louella remains withheld throughout the scene where Roger pursues stealing her purse, and Mrs. Mallard finds her independence and is traumatized. Ms. Jones’ handling of this situation on her own, without attempting to call for help (which would be most women’s reactions in this situation) proves her independence and her strong-will to remain independent.

Through these dimensions of characterization, the authors have highlighted the two female protagonists as perplexed, round, dynamic, centralized on independence, and emotionally reticent. Although the two different authors portray their particular female protagonist with two different types of characterization, the characters still employ similar qualities.

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An Analysis Of “Thank You Ma’am”, a Simple Story about Second Chances and How It Should Be given as Written by Langston Hughes

December 10, 2020 by Essay Writer

Langston Hughes, one of the world’s most famous poets, was known for his literary art and jazz poetry created during the Harlem Renaissance. He was a social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist who attended Lincoln University to study African American Life and History. “Thank You Ma’am” was published in 1958, the period that was represented by violent segregation between the blacks and the whites, and it became one of Hughes’ most famous short stories. It revolves around the topic of second chances, teaching the audience that very few things can be categorically defined as black or white.  “Thank You Ma’am” full story is full of meaning that remains relevant even in modern times, which is why literary analysis is required to overview the plot and reveal its layers.    

The Premise and the Setting

A brief summary is required before moving to Thank You Ma’am” analysis. Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones is a black woman who is returning home after a long day of work at about eleven o’clock in the evening. She is carrying a purse heavy with money in a way that is immediately visible to other people walking next to her. While the street seems empty, it is not so, and at one point, a boy jumps forward and tries to steal the purse. It is Roger, who is a poor youth in desperate need of some basic things, such as blue suede shoes.  His attempt at theft fails and he falls, with Mrs. Jones kicking him and scolding him mercilessly. Later, though, she takes him to her apartment where she mothers him, letting him wash and feeding him. When the boy admits why he needed money, she gives it to him, and he feels so overwhelmed that he struggles with voicing something as simple as the words of gratitude.  

The events of “Thank You Ma’am” take place in two specific settings, namely, an empty street and the house of Mrs. Jones. This woman works in a beauty shop and based on this fact alone, it can be speculated that she lives in the North because, in the South, African American women were not able to secure a job like this at that time. Roger also mentioned that he wants some blue suede shoes, which is a reference to Elvis Presley. His song entitled “Blues Suede Shoes” was popular in the 1950s. Undoubtedly, at first sight, the protagonist in “Thank You Ma’am” is Mrs. Jones, with Roger playing the role of her foe, but things are revealed to be more complicated. They do not become enemies and one does not overcome the other. On the contrary, Mrs. Jones heals the emotional wounds of Roger partly, showing him kindness and support. Hughes uses the third point of view to describe the situation, but despite this fact, every moment feels extremely personal because of his unique writing style. The subtext he created is rich with meaning and important implications.

Implications Showing That Not Everything Exists in Black-and-White

Langston Hughes, who wrote the story, clearly did not intend to make his characters blank and stereotypical. While Roger appears to be the antagonist in “Thank You Ma’am” at the first glance, his character is far from being a one-dimensional villain. In turn, Mrs. Jones is a strong, no-nonsense type of person, but she is also not judgmental. Despite her large and intimidating physical appearance, she is kind-hearted, which is something that Roger desperately needs. Stealing anything is a wrong and flawed decision from any perspective, but at the same time, it can be understood depending on the circumstances. Hughes shows that Roger is ultimately a good person who is put in a bad situation. He does not know how to make money to buy what he needs in any other way. His complex personality is further revealed when he tries to thank Mrs. Jones for everything she has done for him. He is so affected that he cannot even utter these words aloud, which shows that he has a developed emotional side.

Mrs. Jones’ development follows a similar pattern. On the one hand, when the story starts, she kicks Roger, a young boy who has already stumbled and fallen to the ground. She is also direct in unleashing her criticism on him. However, gradually, it becomes evident that she possesses a so-called “tough love” that she uses on Roger. Despite her initial harshness, which is justified by the crime that has almost occurred, she fusses over him and shows his care, which reveals her as an extremely kind, wise, and sympathetic woman who does not hold grudges and is willing to understand why her offender did what he did.  The topic of second chances is central to the plot, and in the end, both characters benefit from it. Thus, the “Thank You Ma’am” story is engaging and meaningful, which explains why it remains popular even now.


Scholars can only speculate as to what made Langston Hughes write this story, but the fact remains, it is one of the most stunning examples of complexity expressed in several pages. At first glance, everything seems standard. Even the setting in “Thank You Ma’am” reflects simplicity since only two places are engaged in the plot. However, their meaning creates a stark contrast that helps distinguish them from each other based on many-layered subtext and context.  The street is empty just like Roger’s life has been, with no one to appeal to for support. Mrs. Jones’ home is a cozy and lovely place where he finally understands what being cared for means. “Thank You Ma’am” publication date might have affected the writer’s inclusion of these specific characters and their race, but he went beyond it and painted a vivid picture of humanity and deep understanding. This story is a prime example of why second chances should be given to people even if they made mistakes.

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