What do we learn about where Mrs. Jones lives in "Thank You, M'am" by Langston Hughes?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Thank You, M'am," we learn that Mrs. Jones's home is a modest one.

When Mrs. Jones drags Roger to her home, she is not taking him to an opulent mansion.  Hughes gives us specific details about how her home reflects a limited economic condition.  Mrs. Jones lives in a house with other "roomers."  When Roger hears them laughing, he knows that "they were not alone."  Roger notices the home's "large kitchenette furnished room at the rear of the house."  There is a day-bed where Mrs. Jones talks to Roger about her life of economic limitation.  We are struck by the intimate, modest setting that contains a "gas plate and an icebox."  Roger does not wash his face in a large bathroom, but rather at a sink.   

Mrs. Jones' home bolsters her lesson to Roger.  Mrs. Jones emphasizes how Roger should reject immorality.  His poverty does not justify such behavior.  As Mrs. Jones reprimands Roger for stealing, she is speaking from the perspective of economic challenge.  If Mrs. Jones's home were a palace that reflected vast sums of wealth, her lesson of not needing to steal to get money would ring hollow.  However, when Roger sees where she lives, it is clear that she shares some common experience with him. He knows that she knows a life of financial limitation.  As a result, he can understand her moral instruction.

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Thank You, M'am

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