Dr. Suzanne Bost
English 354: Contemporary Critical Thinking Theory
October 23, 2012
Langston Hughes: “Thank You, M’am“˗˗Deconstruction Analysis
“Thank You, M’am” is a short story about an elderly African American woman named Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones, who was walking alone in the dark, when suddenly a young boy, Roger, attempts to seize her purse. After the failed attempt, Mrs. Jackson decides to teach Roger a life lesson. Surprisingly, Mrs. Jackson did not treat Roger as if he did anything wrong; instead she allowed him to wash his face, fed him a nice meal, gave him the money for the shoes he attempted to get through stealing her purse, and sent him on his way. Presumably, the story can be seen as an advocate to the concept that the act of discipline is not only effective in punishment, but also by presenting and teaching kindness and trust. Nonetheless, after a closer reading and observation of specific aspects of the story’s characterization, setting, and conflict; the story can also be interpretation as a tribute to the physical (or dominate), altruistic, and compassionate strength of African American women of the period of racial disparity and paternalism.
There are many characteristic traits in the text that would validate the strength of Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones. An example mentioned in the text is in the first line of the story that states, “She was a large woman with a large purse that had everything in it but hammer and nails” (). In this example we are giving a physical description that implies how large woman of a woman Mrs. Washington is. Also shown in the example is her dominance and independence as the text states she had a “large purse that had everything in it but hammer and nails”. Another thing to pull out from this is that the purse itself was “large”, and if it “held” so many things it had to be very heavy. As Roger jerks at the purse, the strap breaks and “‘Roger’s’ weight and the weight of...