In Langston Hughes’ short story “Thank You, M’am,” Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones is a kind and strong-willed woman who teaches an important life lesson to a young boy named Roger. Although the story does not explicitly mention where she works, it is implied that she works at a beauty shop in a hotel.
The story provides a few details that suggest her occupation. For example, when Mrs. Jones first encounters Roger, she is carrying a large purse that contains “everything from a woman’s long purse, including a well-worn brush, a soiled handkerchief with Gay-Paris and a rig on it, new stockings, two or three chocolate bars, crumbled checks, and a red wallet with a chain on it.” These items indicate that she might be a working woman who carries her personal belongings with her.
Moreover, when Mrs. Jones brings Roger to her home, she tells him, “Now, here, take this ten cents and buy yourself some blue suede shoes. And next time, do not make the mistake of latching onto my pocketbook nor nobody else’s—because shoes come by devilish like that will burn your feet. I got to get my rest now. I got to get up early in the morning and go to work.”
Although the story does not explicitly state where she works, we can infer from the context that Mrs. Jones most likely works at a beauty shop of a hotel, which would require her to wake up early and be well-groomed. The story emphasizes Mrs. Jones’ compassion and understanding, as she not only forgives Roger for his attempted theft but also helps him understand the importance of making the right choices in life.