What is an example of personification in Langston Hughes' short story Thank You M'am?

1 Answer | Add Yours

allie-draper's profile pic

allie-draper | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

It's pretty tricky to find personification in "Thank You, M'am" by Langston Hughes. In fact, I would be inclined to argue that there isn't any. Personification is typically defined as the attribution of human characteristics to non-human entities or objects; you'll be hard pressed to identify any object being given human characteristics in the story.

That said, if you're determined to find something like personification, you might be able to make a case for the reference to the shoes at the story's conclusion, when Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones says,

"And next time, do not make the mistake of latching onto my pocketbook nor nobody else's—because shoes come by devilish like that will burn your feet."

While having the ability to "burn" something isn't really a uniquely human characteristic (fire and hot things "burn," too), you might argue that the "burning" described here is intentional, as if the shoes will know they were not lawfully purchased but rather stolen and so choose to burn the wearer; having the intention to burn is a uniquely human characteristic.

Still, this interpretation is stretching things, especially given that Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones seems to imply some supernatural force (perhaps the Devil) might be the one causing the shoes to burn (as opposed to the shoes making a decision themselves). The safest answer to this question is there is no personification in "Thank You, M'am."

We’ve answered 318,949 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question