In “Thank You, M’am,” readers meet Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones on the night a boy tries to steal her purse. How this woman reacts to the attempted theft might surprise you. A Slice of Life What makes Hughes’s characters seem so real? [End of Section] Click here to find out.
In fiction, as in real life, what characters say can reveal a lot about them. To get to know the characters in a story, pay close attention to the dialogue, or conversation between characters.
Most good writers don’t tell you directly what their characters are like. Instead, you have to make inferences about characters based on what they say and do. Prior experience with people and situations Inference about a character Observations of characters’ speech and actions
After you read “Thank You, M’am,” skim through it again and jot down clues that you think reveal something important about the characters. [End of Section] <ul><ul><li>Pay close attention to character’s actions and the dialogue. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss the subtext—what characters don’t say aloud but may be thinking, feeling, or communicating without words. </li></ul></ul>
Make the Connection There’s a saying “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” In very difficult circumstances, some people do indeed get going. They have a spirit that moves them ahead—pushing them to do heroic deeds. What makes these people so tough, so strong in spirit? Why do they turn out to be good? Why do others go so wrong? Jot down your thoughts about these hard questions. [End of Section]
Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. His father felt that writing was “impractical” and wanted his son to be an engineer, but Hughes didn’t cooperate with his father’s plans. He worked at a variety of jobs to support his writing—cook, sailor, beachcomber, launderer, doorman, and busboy. More About the Writer [End of Section]