Literary Analysis of Thank You Ma’am Langston Hughes

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 406 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Jan 31, 2024

Words: 406|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Jan 31, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Summary of the Short Story
  2. Literary Analysis of the Short Story
  3. Theme
    Writing Style
  4. Significance and Impact of the Story
  5. Conclusion

Langston Hughes was an influential African American writer and poet known for his insightful portrayals of black life in America. One of his well-known short stories, "Thank You Ma'am," offers a compelling exploration of human compassion and redemption. This essay aims to analyze the literary elements and themes in the story, as well as its contemporary significance.

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Summary of the Short Story

"Thank You Ma'am" follows the encounter between Mrs. Jones, a strong-willed woman, and Roger, a young boy who tries to steal her purse. As the story unfolds, Mrs. Jones takes Roger to her home and shows him unexpected kindness and understanding, leaving a profound impact on him.

Literary Analysis of the Short Story


The main theme of the story revolves around the transformative power of compassion and empathy. Mrs. Jones's actions towards Roger reflect her belief in the potential for change and the importance of understanding others' struggles.


Mrs. Jones is depicted as a no-nonsense, pragmatic woman with a caring heart. Her kindness towards Roger despite his attempt to steal from her reveals her depth of character. Similarly, Roger is portrayed as a young boy who is initially driven by desperation but is ultimately touched by Mrs. Jones's kindness and feels remorse for his actions.


The purse that Roger attempts to steal symbolizes more than just an object. It represents the idea of material wealth and the temptation of taking the easy way out. Mrs. Jones's ability to see beyond the theft and show compassion symbolizes the potential for redemption and understanding.


The story's setting in a gritty urban neighborhood plays a significant role in highlighting the struggles faced by the characters. The environment serves as a backdrop to the characters' experiences, emphasizing the challenges they confront on a daily basis.

Writing Style

Hughes's use of vivid language and dialogue effectively brings the characters and their emotions to life. Through the story's first-person point of view, readers gain insight into the characters' thoughts and feelings, adding depth to the narrative.

Significance and Impact of the Story

"Thank You Ma'am" remains relevant in today's society, where acts of kindness and understanding are needed more than ever. The story's enduring popularity speaks to its universal themes of forgiveness and redemption, resonating with readers across generations.

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In conclusion, "Thank You Ma'am" not only showcases Langston Hughes's exceptional storytelling but also continues to inspire through its themes of compassion and understanding. Hughes's writing style and poignant portrayal of human nature elevate the story to a timeless piece of literature.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Literary Analysis of Thank You Ma’am Langston Hughes. (2024, January 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 14, 2024, from
“Literary Analysis of Thank You Ma’am Langston Hughes.” GradesFixer, 31 Jan. 2024,
Literary Analysis of Thank You Ma’am Langston Hughes. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 14 Jul. 2024].
Literary Analysis of Thank You Ma’am Langston Hughes [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jan 31 [cited 2024 Jul 14]. Available from:
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