Langston Hughes’ Message in His Poem Thank You, Ma'am

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 622 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: May 14, 2021

Words: 622|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: May 14, 2021

Langston Hughes’ story about Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones and Roger is a message about kindness, sympathy and trust. Set in the 1950’s, during the incidence between our two characters, Hughes demonstrates forgiveness, compassion and second chances. In “Thank you, Ma'am” Hughes conveys his message with an intensity of forgiveness and sympathy. Roger attempts to steal her pocketbook, and having every reason to take this boy to the police, Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones does not. After asking a few questions she finds out that he has no one to go home too. In any case, through sympathy and forgiveness she meets Roger with empathy, even going to such lengths as trusting him and inviting him into her home. She also discovers that he has not eaten supper and Roger has probably been hungry for a while. When Mrs. Jones treats Roger with such kindness, instead of the need to see him punished, he is shocked. We as readers are encouraged to think of how a person who makes a mistake can become a criminal or create worse situations for their lives, when no one is there to guide them to better future choices.

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As we read this story, Hughes connects both of the characters for us. Roger’s vacant home leaves him alone with no one positively influencing him and Mrs. Jones steps in and becomes that missing role model. He tells her he didn’t set out to steal from her and that shows his remorse by apologizing. She herself, having done things wrong in her life, wants to give him a second chance. Mrs. Jones is showing compassion through her understanding of the situation Roger is in. She asks, “A’int you got anyone at home to wash your face?”, he tells her “No’m,” she also notices his face is so dirty and decides she is going to take him home and wash his face herself. After arriving at Mrs. Jones’ house, she shares her supper with him and trusts he will not run. This has to be better for Roger instead of just throwing him in jail. He would be worse off there she thought. Yet, another lesson we can learn is to be kind to each other and to take care of ourselves. In the incident between Mrs. Jones and Roger, she could have just called for the police causing Roger even bigger problems. She instead took responsibility in teaching him how to be proper and trustworthy. This leads us to believe, that we can make a difference in the lives of other if we refuse to act on fear alone.

My pastor, Jesse, once preached about forgiveness and giving people a second chance. He kept having things stolen out of his yard; tools, bikes, his children’s toys, even his surf boards were taken. Over this period of theft, he grew cold and kind of angry at his community. “Why should I trust anyone”, he thought. After weeks of being angry he prayed and thought about the anger he was feeling. Jesse told us that we never know the circumstance people are in and to not post judgment when we don’t truly understand the situation of this person. They could have been stealing to feed their family and felt they had no other options. I believe Hughes conveys his message much in the way my pastor did. When Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones is wronged by Roger, she gives him a second chance. As she leads him to the door, he barely lets out a, Thank You Ma’am”, as she slams it in his face. With sympathy and compassion, she teaches Roger, we always have a choice to make the right decision and to be good to each other through our actions.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Langston Hughes’ Message In His Poem Thank You, Ma’am. (2021, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“Langston Hughes’ Message In His Poem Thank You, Ma’am.” GradesFixer, 14 May 2021,
Langston Hughes’ Message In His Poem Thank You, Ma’am. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 May 2024].
Langston Hughes’ Message In His Poem Thank You, Ma’am [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 May 14 [cited 2024 May 26]. Available from:
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