In the short story, Thank You M'am, by Langston Hughes, Mrs Jones says, "I were young once and I wanted things I could not get." What do these words reveal?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In Thank You M'am, Luella Bates Washington Jones wants to teach the boy who tries to steal her purse where she keeps everything "but hammer and nails," a life lesson. She is an imposing woman and the boy, Roger, is unsure of what action to take after she catches him. He wants to run but she has a firm hold of him. He does struggle but, seeing as it was him who disturbed her, she is adamant that "If you think that that contact is not going to last awhile, you got another thought coming."

Mrs Jones can see his dirty face and wonders if he stole the purse to buy food. She is not actually surprised that he wants to buy "blue suede shoes" and is reminded of her own youth which is probably why she is not harsh with the boy, only firm and fair. Her words reveal that she comes from a less than privileged background where, as a child, she could not have the things she wished for. She will further admit that "I have done things, too."


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