In “Thank You M’am'” what is a half-nelson?

Updated 21 March, 2023
In "Thank You M'am'", a half-nelson is a wrestling hold that the main character, Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones, uses to subdue the young boy who tries to steal her purse. The half-nelson is described as a "specialty of the wrestling team" and is used to immobilize the boy until he promises not to steal again.
Detailed answer:

In the short story "Thank You, M'am" by Langston Hughes, the character Mrs. Jones uses a wrestling move called a half-nelson to subdue the young boy, Roger, who tried to steal her purse.

A half-nelson is a wrestling hold in which one arm is passed under the opponent's arm from behind and the hand is then applied to the back of the opponent's neck. The other hand is used to grasp the opponent's wrist and the hold is then tightened to apply pressure to the neck and upper back. This move can be used to immobilize the opponent or force them to the ground.

Mrs. Jones' use of the half-nelson serves as a metaphor for her ability to take control of the situation and teach Roger a lesson. She could have easily called the police or taken other measures, but instead, she chooses to use physical force in a way that is not violent, but instead teaches Roger a valuable lesson about honesty and respect.

Additionally, the use of the half-nelson in the story also highlights the power dynamic between Mrs. Jones and Roger. She is a strong, formidable woman who is able to physically overpower the young boy. However, she uses this power not to dominate or harm him, but to teach him a lesson and show him a better way.

In conclusion, the half-nelson in "Thank You, M'am" serves as a powerful symbol of Mrs. Jones' strength and her ability to take control of the situation. Through her use of this move, she is able to teach Roger a valuable lesson while also highlighting the power dynamic between them.

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