Compassion in Langston Hughes "Thank You, M'am"

Topics: Want, Need, Blue Suede Shoes Pages: 2 (543 words) Published: February 1, 2008
Langston Hughes "Thank You, M'am", he uses imagery to convey the concept of forgiving and understanding by showing compassion. Hughes describes his characters in such vivid detail they seem to come to life. As he describes Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones, the reader could almost see her walking down the street. "She was a large woman with a large purse that had everything in it but a hammer and nails. It had a long strap, and she carried it slung across her shoulder" (158). Hughes describes the woman in such a way that the reader gets the impression that she is a tough, hefty woman, who is capable of defending herself if necessary.

And one would expect her to do just that, when the boy attempts to steal her purse. The reader expects her to wheel around and give him a good thrashing. However, unsuspectingly Hughes transforms her from a frightfully aggressive, physically imposing woman to a gentle, motherly type through her unexpected actions.

Instead of giving the boy a beating like most would anticipate, the woman takes him home. She can tell that he is in need of something much more than. The boy has no one to care for him and she wants to do just that. While in her home, she tells him to wash his face. She gives him a clean towel and tells him to let the water run until it is warm (159). The reader is aware that the woman is concerned about the boy's well-being.

After the boy washes his face, he then knows that someone cares for him and he does not want that to change.

He took care to sit on the far side of the room, away from the purse, where he thought she could easily see him out the corner of her eye if she wanted to. He did not trust the woman not to trust him. And he did not want to be mistrusted now. (159) The woman had given him the attention he so desperately needed, and he did not want to disappoint her now.

While the woman prepares them dinner, she tells him that she has done things too, which she would not tell him or God, if He...

Cited: Hughes, Langston. "Thank You, M 'am". Literature: Reading and Writing with Critical Strategies Ed. Steven Lynn. New York: Pearson-Longman, 2004. 158-160.
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