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Literature Review of “Thank You, Ma’am “



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    Everyone makes mistakes, but everyone has the second chance to change in their lives. Langston Hughes has written many enlightening stories to tell us positive attitude and lifestyles. In Hughes’ short story, “Thank You, Ma’am “, it talks about a boy named Roger, who attempts to steal Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones’s purse but fails. He fears that he can be sent to jail after he gets caught by Mrs. Jones. Instead of ending in jail, he learned a precious lesson from his mistake. This short story illustrates that love and trust can transform a person’s life while punishment can only result in fear.

    Punishing someone due to a mistake cannot forever teach the person a lesson, but rather cause the person fear. Roger is fearful when Mrs. Jones grabs him, and he asks “You gonna take me to jail? ” He knows that there is no other way out, but to go to jail. Although he knows he must be going to jail, it does not necessarily mean that he learns from his mistakes. Stealing is still rooted in his mind. It is critical when Mrs. Jones decides to use other way to teach him a valuable lesson. Most people believe that punishing him is the better way to stop him from stealing, but Mrs.

    Jones sees Roger’s situation in a different perspective. She knows that fear of being in jail does not prevent Roger from stealing next time. Love changes lives. People who are loved tend to correct their misbehavior than people who are punished. Mrs. Jones understands Roger’s situation that he is not being taking care of. Mrs. Jones loves Roger unconditionally because she wants to help him, and she tells Roger that “I would teach you right from wrong. ” This act of love not only makes Roger feel sorry for his mistake, but also makes him feel that he is loved.

    Mrs. Jones takes Roger home to wash him up and said “Let the water run until it gets warm”, she wants to Roger to take his time and feel safe in the environment. Moreover, she wants to bring Roger back to the humanity. I have stolen my mom’s money once when I was in middle school because I really wanted the MP3 that everyone had in my class. She found out a day after I stole the money, and her first instinct was to punish me. Punishments are very common in Asian family, but after discussing with my dad, she decided to forgive me and each me some valuable lessons. She told me that stealing cannot solve my problems, and she told me that I have to earn money in order to have money. I felt very sorry for what I had done, and I gave her back the money, and decided never to steal again in my life. Even though Roger does not have good parents like I do, but Mrs. Jones becomes the most important educator in his life. Transformation starts when Roger is being accepted from Mrs. Jones. He starts to realize that Mrs. Jones does not judge him, but she understands his situation.

    When Mrs. Jones tries to cook food for both of them, Roger could have run out of the door, but “he did not want to be mistrusted now. ” He knows this is the second chance that Mrs. Jones gives him, and he does not want to “loose” it again. He might have lost many things in life, but he wants to hold on the trust that Mrs. Jones has for him. Roger transformed from a boy who steals people’s money to ask “Do you need somebody to go to the store to buy milk? ” He changed from “loose” to well-behaved.

    When they start to eat, she approaches him and tells him to “eat some more, son. ” By calling him a “son” portrays that Mrs. Jones is willing to forgive him and that he is part of the family. In the end of the story, Roger says “Thank you” shows he learns to be appreciating for what Mrs. Jones has done, and “he never saw her again. ” Tells us Roger never does bad things after he walks out Mrs. Jones’s door. Roger starts from a boy who seems to be very loose in life to be transformed to someone who is being loved and accepted.

    Langston Hughes encourages us that everyone deserves a second chance, and we can become a better person once we fix our mistakes. There is slang in our Chinese culture; a fault confessed is half redressed, which means if you can recognize your fault, then it is easier to change the misbehavior. This short story teaches us how to forgive other people’s fault and love them unconditionally. In life, we all make mistakes, but the most important thing is we know how we can change it and become a better person.

    Literature Review of “Thank You, Ma’am “. (2017, Jan 05). Retrieved from

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