“Thank You, Ma’am” By Langston Hughes
Quickwrite n Have you ever wanted something so badly you stole it? n n n Describe the item What was your action plan? What was the outcome?
What are we going to do with this story? Pre-read: familiarize yourself with vocabulary, terms, pictures, Langston Hughes etc. n Read n After-Reading: n n Analyze the elements (setting, characters, conflict, plot, theme, etc. )
Group Activity: Pre-read 1. What was the “Harlem Renaissance? ” 2. Who was Langston Hughes? Group Questions 3. What does it feel like to have something stolen from you? 4. Why do people steal?
Pre-Read Harlem, New York City n n New York City neighborhood “Harlem Renaissance” n Outpouring of art and music from African. Americans in 1920 s and 1930 s
Language/Vocabulary n presentable: n n n respectable, fit to be seen, acceptable Not dressed in blue jeans, tee shirt, dirty “You might run that comb through your hair so you will look presentable. ”
mistrusted n n n distrust, doubt, suspect, be wary of, be afraid of Crime scene in Harlem And he did not want to be mistrusted now.
latching: n n clutching, grasping, holding, grabbing, seizing …do not make the mistake of latching onto my pocketbook nor nobody else’s …
barren: n n unproductive, sterile, desolate, bleak, infertile, unfruitful, inhospitable …he couldn’t even say that as he turned at the foot of the barren stoop and looked up at the large woman in the door.
Blue Suede Shoes. Popular in 1950 s -Elvis
During Reading “Thank You, Ma’am” by Langston Hughes. As you read, keep write a list of five to ten events that happen in the story.
After Reading n n What do you think Roger will do next? Do you think Mrs. Jones successfully taught Roger that stealing is wrong? Do you think that Mrs. Jones has influenced Roger’s life in a positive way? Do you think that Roger will lead a “straight” life in the future?
After Reading… n n n How did Roger feel when Mrs. Jones said that she, too, had once wanted things that she could not have? What was Roger thinking about when Mrs. Jones left her purse out in the open where he could easily snatch it if he wanted to? What was going on in Mrs. Jones’ mind when she gave Roger money? What did Roger mean when he said that he “did not trust the woman not to trust him”? Why do you think Roger could only utter a “Thank You” before Mrs. Jones closed the door?
Group Activity: Short Story Element Analysis Characterization of Mrs. Jones Characterization of Roger Title and Group Members Conflicts of Mrs. Jones Conflicts of Roger
Setting Ø Place Harlem, New York Ø Dark walkway Ø Mrs. Jones’ small flat Ø Ø One room: bedroom, kitchen, living room, bathroom Ø Time Late at night Ø 1950’s Ø Ø Clues: Blue Suede shoes
Characters n Roger n Main: conflict revolves around him n n Both Internal and External Conflict Dynamic: changes n n Starts out a thief and liar Wants Mrs. Jones to trust him at the end
Characters n Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones n n Main: is involved in the conflict Static: doesn’t change n Always caring and strong
Conflict n External n Man vs. Man n n Roger steals Mrs. Jones’ purse. Internal n Man vs. Self n Roger wants to run away but doesn’t want to disappoint Mrs. Jones.
Theme Right vs. wrong n Just because you’re poor, doesn’t mean you should steal from others—Roger n Take care of others who need to be cared for—Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones n Forgiveness n Restitution n
How to Write Literary Analysis We are dissecting the writing to examine its elements. n Writing is professional, not casual (no “I” or “You” statements). n Let’s look at examples. n
Sample response: n I don’t like this story. It’s stupid and boring. I don’t understand any of it. I don’t like to read. I don’t The understand key is to writesome what of the words you are gettingmake from the and the story doesn’t any sense to me. mustgoing be getting I have reading; no idea you what’s on. something. You can only be wrong if you get n This response isor weak nothing don’tbecause supply it is just an OPINION that isevidence! not useful for the purpose of literary response.
Sample response This story is about a kid who tries to steal an old lady’s purse. Her name is Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones. When he tries to steal her purse, she grabs him and then yells at him. She takes him home and gives him something to eat. Then she gives him the money for the blue suede shoes he wanted, and lets him go. y l p m i s s i This ; h g u o n e not c i s a b n o i s n e h e r p This is considered a weak response because it is only a m o r c u o r PLOT SUMMARY. e g n o l o n You will never beis asked to simply summarize the plot on. l a literary or academic essay, on the exam, and a o g especially in college.
Sample response: This story is interesting. I like the way the old lady takes the kid home. It’s interesting how the writer describes her clothes and stuff. It was weird when she took him home instead of to the cops. Mrs. Jones seems like a nice lady, but she’s a little crazy. I don’t know why she did that. It shows the reader beginning to think beyond the text, but it’s really more of a reaction than a response.
Sample response: That kid in the story reminds me of my cousin Steve. He tried to steal some sodas from a deli one time. He was so ready to do it; he scouted out the store, waited until the guy wasn’t looking. I was waiting outside; my friend Jose went in with him. But he got caught trying to stuff the bottles in his bookbag. The lady who works there called the guy out of the back and started yelling at them. It’s wonderful that text reminded the student of his own life, but the writing here drifts too far away from the text. As interesting as it is, the writing doesn’t show evidence of reading without making specific connections.
Sample response: Luella Bates Washington Jones is one of the most remarkable characters I’ve encountered in short fiction. She’s a strong woman, both physically and mentally, who knows exactly what she thinks and feels and believes, especially when it comes to right and wrong. She knew instinctively that the best thing to do for the boy was to give him what she knew he probably lacked – parental attention and a nurturing home environment. I don’t know if I would have reacted the same way; do I have that kind of patience? Maybe it’s because…
That was better, but… But you must include the TAG! T itle of the text A uthor of the text G enre of the text (short story)
Sample response: Langston Hughes’ characterization of Mrs. Jones in his short story “Thank You Ma’am” is full and interesting; he provides just enough detail (the “purse with everything in it but…, ” etc. ) to make her an individual, yet at the same time expects us to call upon our own knowledge and experience of women like her. Yet in a sly ironic twist, he turns her from a frightfully aggressive woman to a gentle, saintly, motherly type. He does this through words and actions that are entirely unexpected. Instead of. . .
What would I do if I were you? In Langston Hughes short story “Thank You, Ma’am”, he creates the character of Roger who is. . . n Include info on how his character changes n Include some basic plot info n This is just your first literary analysis. Try your best. n