An Act of Kindness in Langston Hughes’ Short Story, Thank You Ma'am

download print

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 601 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Nov 22, 2018

Words: 601|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Nov 22, 2018

Keywords: Langston Hughes,Woman,act of kindness

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

Storyteller Aesop once quipped, “Any act of kindness, no matter how small, is never wasted.” This truth is illuminated in Langston Hughes’ short story, “Thank You Ma’am,” when a woman helps a boy from the wrong side of the tracks get back on the right path, even though he has wronged her. The woman’s merciful yet firm stance enlightens the mischievous boy about the error of his ways. Ultimately, a little generosity and kindness will go a long way.

As the story begins to take shape, Roger is a misguided young man, as yet untouched by the woman’s kindness. He fails in his attempt to steal a purse from Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones, and is already paying the price. Says the author, “The large woman simply turned around and kicked him right square in his blue-jeaned sitter. Then she reached down, picked the boy up by his shirt front, and shook him until his teeth rattled”. Evidently, Mrs. Jones is taking matters into her own hands to discipline the wayward boy, rather than leaving it up to the police. She punishes him for his wrongdoing with the sole intent of discouraging him from making similar mistakes in the future.

In this way, it is her concern for his welfare and future that makes her take such stern action. Another instance of Mrs. Jones compassionate, nearly maternal, attitude towards Roger plays out when she confronts him verbally. She remarks, “You ought to be my son. I would teach you right from wrong. Least I can do right now is to wash your face. Are you hungry?”. Whereas most people would resent their attackers, Mrs. Jones wanted to care for Roger and even take him under her wing. It is a telling fact indeed that her priority was to tend to the boy, not report him to the authorities. Conclusively, Mrs. Jones exhibited tremendous generosity toward Roger, and it has made all the difference.

Later, Mrs. Jones continues her motherly role towards Roger, even softening up a bit. She “did not ask the boy anything about where he lived, or his folks, or anything else that would embarrass him. Instead, as they ate, she told him about her job”. Noticeably, Mrs. Jones was considerate of the boy by speaking to him in a friendly manner, discussing a carefree topic with him to ease his mind and establish a caring relationship with him, as though he were her son. In another example of her hospitality towards Roger, she says, “Now here, take this ten dollars and buy yourself some blue suede shoes… The boy wanted to say something other than ‘Thank you, ma’am’…but although his lips moved, he couldn’t”. Astoundingly, Mrs. Jones gave the boy the money he had tried to steal from her in the first place — along with a valuable lesson. As for Roger, he was clearly moved by her charity and dumbstruck to see that anyone could be so forgiving; he had obviously learned his lesson. All in all, Mrs. Jones showed great mercy towards Roger and was rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing that she had positively impacted his life.

Get a custom paper now from our expert writers.

As Aesop brilliantly remarked, “Any act of kindness, no matter how small, is never wasted.” Langston Hughes shines the light on this reality in his short story, “Thank You Ma’am.” Roger is surprised to receive compassion and mercy from a woman he had wronged. He comes to see the error in his ways thanks to Mrs. Jones’ profoundly caring nature towards him. Conclusively, even a little kindness and hospitality can change a person’s life.

Image of Dr. Oliver Johnson
This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

An Act of Kindness in Langston Hughes’ Short Story, Thank You Ma’am. (2021, December 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 22, 2024, from
“An Act of Kindness in Langston Hughes’ Short Story, Thank You Ma’am.” GradesFixer, 06 Dec. 2021,
An Act of Kindness in Langston Hughes’ Short Story, Thank You Ma’am. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Jul. 2024].
An Act of Kindness in Langston Hughes’ Short Story, Thank You Ma’am [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Dec 06 [cited 2024 Jul 22]. Available from:
Keep in mind: This sample was shared by another student.
  • 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help
  • Custom essay delivered in as few as 3 hours
Write my essay

Still can’t find what you need?

Browse our vast selection of original essay samples, each expertly formatted and styled


Where do you want us to send this sample?

    By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.


    Be careful. This essay is not unique

    This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

    Download this Sample

    Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts


    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!


    Get Your
    Personalized Essay in 3 Hours or Less!

    We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!
    • Instructions Followed To The Letter
    • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
    • Unique And Plagiarism Free
    Order your paper now