Thursday, 12 June 2014

Explain the title Thank You, Ma'am.

Roger, the young boy who tries to steal a purse from the wrong woman in this Langston Hughes short story, feels shame and regret after he is forced to return to her home. While there, the large woman, Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones, treats the boy with respect and gives him a hot meal. She does not question him about the purse again, but only asks if he wanted the money because he was hungry. No, the boy tells her; he only wants to buy some blue suede shoes. She tells him that she, too, has done things for which she is ashamed. Mrs. Jones gives him $10 to buy the shoes, and shows him the way to the door. As he leaves, he wishes that he could think of something else to say, but he only tells her "Thank you, ma'am." Because the woman, who obviously has little money herself and has to cook a simple meal on a hot plate, is so kind to the boy, and treats him with dignity, she earns his trust and his respect--quite a change from how the two first met. It seems an appropriate title.

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