Short Story #346: Thank You Ma'am by Langston Hughes

Title:  Thank You Ma'am

Author:  Langston Hughes


Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
A boy tries to steal Miss Jones' purse while she is walking down the street.  He is unsuccessful and falls over in the interaction.  Jones picks him up and starts yelling at him.  She asks him what he did it for and he lies but is honest when he says he will run after she asks him whether he will if she lefts him go.  She decides to take him to her home and clean him up.  The boy asks to leave and Jones berates him for trying to steal from her and that this is now his fault.  They go back to the apartment and she learns that his name is Roger.  He reveals that he was stealing the purse to go buy a pair of blue suede shoes and she says he could have just asked for the money.  She then lets on that she too did things like steal when she was his age.  She goes to prepare some food after setting down the purse in front of him.  But Roger doesn't grab it and run, even though he easily could.  They eat their meal and as Jones dismisses him, she gives him money to buy the shoes.  Before Roger can speak to the deep sense of appreciation about the experience, she already shut the door.


If we could all encounter Miss Jones when making dumb mistakes in our youth.  The contrast between the two is great and Jones' dialogue feel right enough that one can practically hear it.
Short Story #346 out of 365
Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.  This story can also be found for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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