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Response to “Thank You, M’am” by Langston Hughes


The short story “Thank You, M’am” written by the American author Langston Hughes is a perfect instance of a human being’s particular traits’ manifestations. The young boy was caught trying to steal a purse from a woman, but instead of being punished, he was shown kindness intended to change his attitude toward his life. This essay will examine the act of humanity displayed by the writer and reveal its hidden sense, supporting it with evidence from the original text throughout the paper.

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Discussion of the Act of Humanity Showed in the Story

The story begins with the description of the woman with an above-mentioned purse to create an initial imagination of someone who is likely to be kind rather than mean. While she was walking home late in the evening, a boy tried to steal her purse, but he was so weak that he did not manage to get away with it, resulting in him being caught by the woman. She acted like a regular human being who was about to be robbed, as she “picked the boy up by his shirt front, and shook him until his teeth rattled (Moosmosis Writers).” It might look like nothing good the young boy may expect from her, but soon she started to behave slightly differently.

With respect to the setting, the time when the situation happened is not chosen by accident. Late evenings are considered a period when all negative thoughts that can potentially lead to crimes and other deteriorative actions have the highest chances of becoming a reality.

The great part of the impression from the story and its sense is hidden in the language used. The woman tried to appeal to the boy’s conscience by saying: “Now ain’t you ashamed of yourself?” (Moosmosis Writers). Her words indicate that she was not intended to punish the boy physically but rather to make him feel guilty for what he had tried to do. The language she utilized is common among mothers when they are trying to teach their children proper behavior while gently showing them the absurdness of what they have committed. The manner of how the woman speaks to the boy is the same throughout the story, as it is the way the author makes readers believe in the way the kindness is shown.

The other essential points to outline are conflict and plot that play a vital role in the meaning of the story. Readers are shown that the woman took the boy to her home with the intention to wash his face and share a meal. It is evident that she cared about the complete strangers in the way mothers usually do. She made the boy repent for his attempt of crime with her humanity while also making him believe in kindness again by giving him money for the boots he desired. The conflict of the story, which is the attempt of robbery, is resolved with the act of humanity and teaching of how to behave in the future.


The story “Thank You, M’am” serves the purpose of showing the readers how the small act of humanity can influence a person and make him a better one eventually. The woman, the boy, tried to rob, shown the stranger her kindness instead of punishing him for the crime. She believed in him and decided to give a boy a chance to become a nice man in the future. She acted like a mother to her child and showed the most extraordinary possible kindness to readers.

Works Cited

Moosmosis Writers. “Thank You Ma’am Analysis: by Langston Hughes.Moosmosis. 2021. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, September 30). Response to “Thank You, M’am” by Langston Hughes. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2022, September 30). Response to “Thank You, M’am” by Langston Hughes.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Response to “Thank You, M’am” by Langston Hughes'. 30 September.

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