Short Story Analysis

"Thank You Ma'am" By: Langston Hughes


In the short story Thank you, Ma'am tells a story about a young boy who tries to steal a woman's purse. When he thought he had it, he thought wrong because he tripped and fell on the lady. The lady asked him if she let him go would he run, he responded yes so she didn't let him go. The lady saw that the boys face was dirty, and she didn't want him going home like that. What she did was that she brought him home with her and she fed him. She asked him why he wanted to steal her purse, and the boy said it was because he wanted blue sued shoes. Later on, the lady gave him ten dollars and walked him out of the house. The boy wanted to thank the lady but before he did, the lady closed the gate.

Relating to a Raisin in the Sun

They young boy Rodger relates to Walter, in the fact that he is ashamed to admit the reasons for his behavior. Rodger is embarrassed that his family left him and he can't provide for himself and he has resorted to stealing. While Walter can't admit to mama why he has become upset and angry over the fact that he can't provide for his family and is not the head of his own house. They both hide behind lies to cover up their reasons for wanting money, and in the end they finally realize the power of family, when the lady feeds and washes Rodger and buys him blue suede shoes it is the first time he has felt love. Walter feels the love of his family when they get a nicer house and make a better future for themselves.

Thematic Link

In the short story "Thank You Ma'am" Rodger gets a life lesson that positivity influenced his life, it taught him a strong lesson in right v.s. wrong. Rodger has had to take care of himself, and that involves not trusting many people and to fend for himself even if it was against the law. Mrs. Jones taught him a lesson that people can be kind and how your past doesn't define who you are, it's your choices. She reassures him, by letting him know that everyone is not perfect and maybe he even reminds her of herself some time ago. (Literary Criticism)