"Thank You, M'am" is an American short story written by Langston Hughes.
Were you ever been called out by an elder for your behavior when you were younger? Or maybe you made a mistake and someone gave you a second chance?
Langston Hughes' short story, Thank You, Ma'am, published in 1958, captures both situations. Langston Hughes was an important and prolific writer during the Harlem Renaissance of the early 20th century. He wrote about African-American life and experience. Thank You Ma'am is about what happens when a teenage boy and an older working woman collide on a Harlem street.
Langston Hughes' short story Thank you, Ma'am is about 'second chances.' After their initial encounter, she quickly assesses the teenager's situation and realizes that he has no one to care for him. She didn't want to take him to the police, as he was very skinny and obviously hungry. But Roger did not want her money to buy food; rather, he wanted a new pair of blue suede shoes. The desire for this possession stands in sharp contrast to his dirty face and messy hair; as status symbols, the shoes would make him look as though he had more money than he really had.
The story is also about the 'relationship between generations.' When Mrs. Jones lectures Roger on the street, she tells him he could be her son. By sharing some of her own life story and nurturing Roger like a mother, she lets him know that he doesn't need to commit crimes to get what he wants out of life. She eventually obtains his trust. While we never learn about the terrible thing Mrs. Jones did in her youth, or anything about her children or husband, we know those things were so bad she couldn't even tell God.
At the end of the story, Roger gets both her message and the money, but he has no words to express his gratitude. Although they never see each other again, she manages to change the course of his life in a brief period of time.