Thank You M’am by Langston Hughes

Character Analysis: Roger (the boy)

In the short story Roger is portrayed as a young boy, maybe fourteen or fifteen, that is roaming the streets late at night up to no good. His mission is steal a pocketbook in order to buy some blue suede shoes. At first Roger seems incompetent when snatching the purse. He is described as little compared to the woman. Throughout the story we see a change in Roger and how the woman has affected his life in such a short period of time. He is quiet and doesn’t say much except for when asked a question. One can conclude that the boy comes from a seperated household when he explains that he hasn’t eaten because nobody was home.

Also, when the woman notices the dirt upon the boy’s face, she points it out making him wash his face. At no point in time did the boy run out of the house knowing that he had several opportunities to do so. He wanted the woman to trust him even when she paid no mind to him. It’s almost as if he wanted to show her that he wasn’t a trouble maker just a troubled kid. He was worried about the fact that she could’ve taken him to jail but didn’t. After enjoying a meal together, the woman gave the boy ten dollars and sent him off. Just before walking off he had a thought in his mind to say something other than “thank you m’am,” but no words came out. He couldn’t show his appreciation but he definitely felt it.

How does the story relate to contemporary times?

It seems as though this story takes place in a different time period like the old days. They’re language sense is more old fashion, but the story behind it is something that is still experienced today. In contemporary times people still steal and  a portion of the youth is corrupted, but there’s always that one instance when someone reaches out to change someone in need. In the story the woman reaches out to the boy instead of turning him in or cutting him down. She teaches him a valuable lesson that he will remember for the rest of his life, she might’ve even changed him. Now and days, people still take that initial step to teach others a lesson.

It’s all about second chances. In today’s society things are different, but values aren’t. Some poeple still believe in taking a chance on others no matter their past actions. They see the good in someone rather than judge. It happens everywhere it could be done by anyone no matter the age, race, sex, anyone is capable of making a change. Till this day the youth is still trying to be preserved and if just one person, such as the woman in the story can reach out and not give up, they can make a bigger difference than they think. People who are strong in spirit often influence those around them.


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