Thank You, M'am Questions and Answers
by Langston Hughes

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What is a brief summary of "Thank you, M'am" by Langston Hughes?

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Vikash Lata eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones is a stout woman who is heading to her home through a deserted street late at night. Roger, a misguided teenage, comes running up behind her in order to snatch away the large purse slung over her shoulder.

His attempt fails as the strap breaks, and he falls on the ground. She “simply” turns around, kicks him, and grabs him by his shirt. He is too “frail and willow-wild” to free himself from the tight clutch of the large Mrs Bates. When she asks him if he is ashamed of himself, he says he is ashamed.

Mrs. Jones notices Roger’s dirty face. She asks him if there is no one at his home to tell him to wash his face. He replies, “No’m.” She holds him tight and drags him off toward her home. She thinks he might be hungry. When she asks him if he is, he says he is not hungry. He is actually afraid and thinks that she might hand him over to the police.

She does not loosen her grip on him until they are home. Finally, she frees him from her half-nelson hold and asks him to wash his face.

"Let the water run until it gets warm,” she said. “Here’s a clean towel.”

Roger must be startled by these affectionate words; however, he is still doubtful of her plan. He asks her if she is going to take him to jail.

Mrs. Jones learns that there is nobody at his home to cook him food or look after him. She says, “Then we’ll eat.”

Roger starts opening up and tells her that he attempted to steal because he wanted to buy a pair of suede shoes. When she says he could have asked her for money instead of attempting to steal, he is greatly amazed. He does not seem to believe her.

Seeing the open door before him, he feels an urge to run away. Meanwhile, Mrs. Jones says, “I were young once and I wanted things I could not get.” She then goes on to share with him her personal feelings and experiences, not in much detail, though. She says,

I have done things, too, which I would not tell you, son—neither tell God, if he didn’t already know.

She makes sure not to make the young boy feel awkward. She does not ask him any question about “where he...

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