Q:

What is the story "Thank You Ma'am" by Langston Hughes about?

A:

Quick Answer

"Thank You Ma'am" is a story about a young boy named Roger who tries to steal a purse from a woman named Luella Bates Washington Jones. After sending Roger flying onto the sidewalk, Mrs. Jones picks him up, takes him home, cleans him up, feeds him and gives him the money he tried to steal. As the boy leaves, he wants to say, "Thank you, ma'am," but cannot.

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Full Answer

According to the American Literature website, though the characters are obviously African-American, the story is more about morality than racial inequality. The poverty of the characters is accentuated, and Hughes brings out compassion and decency that transcends barriers such as race, class, age and finances.

According to Encyclopædia Britannica, Langston Hughes was one of the most important chroniclers of the American black experience. He was 23 years old when, after showing some of his poems to American poet Vachel Lindsay, his work began to reach a wide audience. Awards and book publications followed. Hughes published not only collections of short stories, but also poetry, novels, plays and an autobiography. He is regarded as one of the most important black writers and a key figure of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. He died of prostate cancer in 1967, but his work continues to be popular all over the world.

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Related Questions

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    What year was Langston Hughes' poem "Dreams" written?

    A:

    Frequently referred to incorrectly as "Dreams" or ""Dream Deferred," the poem "Harlem" by Langston Hughes first appeared in print in 1951. The short poem appeared originally as part of the poetry collection titled "Montage of a Dream Deferred."

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  • Q:

    What is "Refugees in America" by Langston Hughes about?

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    Langston Hughes' famous "Refugees in America" was first published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1943, addressing issues of equality for all Americans. At a time still long before the Civil Rights Movement, during a war when the army of the United States was still segregated, Hughes' poem reflects upon the most idealized dreams of American life. It also reflects on the failure to achieve balance across races.

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  • Q:

    What is a summary of "Dream Variations" by Langston Hughes?

    A:

    In "Dream Variations," Langston Hughes wants a carefree life free of discrimination and prosecution. The first stanza describes his dream and the feelings he enjoyed in the past. In the second stanza, the poet is dreaming after a long day's hard work, and this dream is incomplete.

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  • Q:

    What were Langston Hughes' major accomplishments?

    A:

    Langston Hughes was one of the most prominent black poets of the Harlem Renaissance. His accomplishments include publishing his first poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," to critical acclaim; winning several major literary awards for his poems, plays, short stories and novels; founding theaters; teaching at universities; and being a major contributor to the Harlem Renaissance and helping to shape American literature.

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