Langston Hughes uses a variety of literary devices in “Thank You, Ma’am,” such as imagery, hyperbole, characterization, colloquial diction, and tone.
From the start, the reader is very comfortable with the character of Mrs. Jones. Hughes characterizes her as a tough woman who is unafraid to walk alone late at night. When the boy tries to steal her purse, she is further shown to be caring and compassionate. Instead of turning him in to the police, she takes him home, feeds him, and gives him money to buy the shoes he wants. Mrs. Jones is understanding and loving: she wants the boy to learn the right behavior, and she also can relate to his wanting something he cannot have.
Hughes further characterizes Mrs. Jones via the use of colloquial diction. She speaks to the boy in a firm tone but caring tone: “Ain’t you got nobody home to tell you to wash your face?...Maybe you ain’t been to your supper either.” The reader relates easily to the characters because of the comfortable,...
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