Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Hughes chose to write in the idiom of black America and for more than forty years experimented with its cadences and accents. Most of “Thank You, M’am” is written in an urban dialect. This reliance on colloquial dialogue to reveal personality is one characteristic of the traditional African American oral style that Hughes often employs. Other characteristics are a deceptively simple sentence structure and a presentational style of narration. Hughes has the woman and the boy speak directly; they seldom demand or declare but simply ask or say. Hughes also has the narrator speak in a colloquial voice. The narrator tells the reader, “The large woman simply turned around and kicked him right square in his blue jeaned sitter.”

In addition to capturing speech cadences in his works, Hughes experimented with the sound of the blues in his poetry and prose; the blues, which sing of the common person and of survival, are heard in “Thank You, M’am.”

Thank You, M'am Bibliography

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Berry, Faith. Langston Hughes: Before and Beyond Harlem. New York: Wings Books, 1995.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Langston Hughes. New York: Chelsea House, 1989.

Chinitz, David. “Rejuvenation Through Joy: Langston Hughes, Primitivism, and Jazz.” American Literary History 9 (Spring, 1997): 60-78.

Cooper, Floyd. Coming Home: From the Life of Langston Hughes. New York: Philomel Books, 1994.

Harper, Donna Sullivan. Not So Simple: The “Simple” Stories by Langston Hughes. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1995.

Haskins, James. Always Movin’ On: The Life of Langston Hughes. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1993.

Hokanson, Robert O’Brien. “Jazzing It Up: The Be-bop Modernism of Langston Hughes.” Mosaic 31 (December, 1998): 61-82.

Leach, Laurie F. Langston Hughes: A Biography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004.

Mullen, Edward J., ed. Critical Essays on Langston Hughes. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1986.

Ostrum, Hans A. A Langston Hughes Encyclopedia. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Rampersad, Arnold. The Life of Langston Hughes. 2 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Tracy, Steven C., ed. A Historical Guide to Langston Hughes. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.