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

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What are some conflicts in Langston Hughes's short story "Thank You, M'am" ?

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The central conflict in Langston Hughes's short story "Thank You, M'am" is character vs. society. Like many of his other works, Hughes uses his short story to capture the demeaning effects of oppression due to racism. Due to racism, people like Roger and Mrs. Jones live in poverty, which influences them to act out of desperation to meet their needs and wants.

We can tell Roger is in a state of poverty because his face is so dirty that Mrs. Jones feels compelled to ask, "Ain't you got nobody home to tell you to wash your face," to which Roger replies, "No'm." This tells us that Roger is neglected and abandoned, possibly because he is raised only by one parent who must work endlessly to make ends meet or because both parents must work endlessly, leaving Roger to grow up on the streets, fending for himself, just like many of his race.

Roger's poverty and neglect drive him to do things he is ashamed of doing such as to try stealing from innocent people because he dearly wants things he can't afford to buy like a "pair of blue suede shoes." Sometimes the desire to fulfill a want aches even more than the desire to fulfill a need, which is something Mrs. Roger understands from her own personal experiences, as she explains when she very compassionately confesses to having also done things she was ashamed of to get things she wanted but couldn't have.

While the character vs. society conflict that both Roger and Mrs. Jones face creates a minor character vs. character conflict between them, portrayed in Roger trying to steal Mrs. Jones's purse at the beginning of the story, the character vs. character conflict is actually resolved early on in the story. The conflict is resolved the moment Mrs. Jones decides to forgive Roger and take him under her care for the...

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