“Thank You Ma'am” Author's Style Essay

1088 words - 5 pages

“Thank You Ma’am”, by Langston Hughes, is a story that communicates an effective message. Throughout the short story, there are many elements of author’s craft that Hughes uses to convey the message. To begin, Hughes uses economical diction, to make the story straightforward. Instead of using long-winded, extraneous diction, Hughes writes very simply and in a straightforward manner. For example, in the text, it states, “She was a large woman with a large purse that had everything in it but hammer and nails. It had a long strap, and she carried it slung across her shoulder,” (Hughes 1). As can be seen, the author clearly does tries to make the scene brief. The author didn’t go into further explanation about the women’s characteristics. He only informed the reader about one single characteristic. The purse had exactly no characteristics besides the fact that it could be slung across a shoulder. No texture, feel, or any characteristic was given to the woman's purse. By making the story straightforward, the economical diction makes the reader stay focused. When an author explains too much about an insignificant matter in the story, many readers will get bored because the story is not moving at an adequate pace for them. Furthermore, the author, uses economical diction closer to the end of the short story, “After he had dried his face and not knowing what else to do dried it again, the boy turned around, wondering what next. The door was open. He could make a dash for it down the hall,” (Hughes 2). This economical diction towards the end of the story, by making the events more straightforward, makes the story conclude very intriguingly. By not elaborating excessively towards the end, Hughes conveys his message more clearly.
The usage of figurative language in “Thank You Ma’am”, by Langston Hughes, makes the short story more descriptive. According to Dictionary.com, figurative language is, “language that contains or uses figures of speech, especially metaphors.” For example, the first sentence of the short story, “Thank You Ma’am”, “She was a large woman with a large purse that had everything in it but hammer and nails,” (Hughes 1), contains a form of figurative language called a Hyperbole. A hyperbole is an exaggeration that is used in the text. The hyperbole that is used appears at the very end of the excerpt when Hughes elaborates that the purse “...had everything in it but hammer and nails,” (Hughes 1). In the ending of that excerpt, Hughes is using a hyperbole to describe the abundance of objects in the women’s purse. The exaggeration in the hyperbole constructs a wider picture in the reader’s mind. Furthermore the author uses more figurative language near the beginning of the story, in a different form of figurative language called a metaphor. In the text, it states, “But the boy’s weight and the weight of the purse combined caused him to lose his balance so, instead of taking off full blast as he had hoped, the boy fell on his back on the...

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