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Langston Hughes, one of the world’s most famous poets, was known for his literary art of jazz poetry during the Harlem Renaissance. He was a social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He attended Lincoln University to study African American Life and History. His most famous short story was “Thank You Ma’am”.
“Thank You Ma’am” is a story that does not reveal the setting, but there are clues that Langston gives the reader an idea. Hughes published this story in 1958, which means that during that time, blacks and whites were still segregated. Mrs. Jones works in a beauty shop that serves diverse women. This would most likely happen in the North because in the South, African American women would not be able to secure a job like that. Roger also mentioned that he wanted some blue suede shoes, which is a reference to Elvis Presley. He had a song entitled “Blues Suede Shoes” which was popular in the 1950s.
There are only two characters in this story; a teenager named and Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones. Roger is the antagonist and Mrs. Jones is the protagonist.
“Thank You Ma’am is told in third person point of view because someone else is the narrator.
Langston Hughes reveals Mrs. Jones as a strong that takes no nonsense, but is not judgmental. She is kind-hearted despite her appearance.
This story begins with Mrs. Jones walking by herself at night when Roger came alone and snatched her purse. This is the external conflict in the story. Before he could take off, he ends up falling. Mrs. Jones takes Roger to her house to clean up his face and get him some to eat. She also gives him money to buy the shoes he wanted.
“Thank You Ma’am” is one of the more simple stories, but it has so much impact on a reader. This story is a prime example of second chances and how it should given
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