What is the mood of "Thank You, M'am" by Langston Hughes?

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shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The mood of Langston Hughes’ short story “Thank You, M’am” is hopeful. This tone is evident in the plot of the story, which begins with a young boy named Roger attempting to steal the purse Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones. Hughes’ tone is lightly humorous as he describes the encounter between Mrs. Jones and Roger, which Mrs. Jones decidedly gets the better of.

Roger has picked the wrong woman to rob. She is much stronger and bolder than he could have imagined, and she drags him home with her. The mood is hopeful because of what happens next. As Mrs. Jones engages Roger in conversation and cooks for him, Roger begins to have a change of heart. He begins to want Mrs. Jones to see him as trustworthy. When Mrs. Jones actually gives him money, she is silently expressing the hope that her unexpected kindness will change Roger into someone who won’t try to steal anymore.

As Roger leaves her house, he wants to say “Thank you, M’am” to Mrs. Jones, but by then the door is already closed. The fact that Roger wishes to thank her shows that she has made at least something of an impression on him. Our hope, as readers, is that Roger has learned his lesson as a result of Mrs. Jones’ kindness.