Is Acceptance Enough?
Albert Ellis, an American psychologist, once said, “Acceptance is not love. You love a person because he or she has lovable traits, but you accept everybody just because they're alive and human.” Langston Hughes’s short story, “Thank You, M’am,” emphasizes this point clearly. A story set in the 1950’s, it spreads its message to all periods of time, including the modern world. It is quite evident from the analysis of “Thank You, M’am” that the human being’s desire acceptance above all else known to man.
Roger, a character in “Thank You, M’am,” has many desires, all of which lead to his longing for approval from others. This is quite apparent in Roger’s use of language. He uses the word m’am almost religiously, always addressing Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones with respect. A man’s desires, want and passions, can cause him to perform crazy actions, perhaps even terrible ones. Roger desires blue suede shoes, typical for a young boy of that time, the 1950’s. He very directly states, “I want a pair of blue suede shoes.” He wants to have the shoes that are “in,” that will let him be accepted into his social group. Roger’s desire for acceptance manifests itself here quite clearly. He will do nearly anything to achieve this, including theft. Even once Mrs. Jones catches Roger, though, he fights for acceptance from her, trying to appease Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones.
To make Mrs. Jones welcome him, Roger makes the decision to let her trust him. Trust is, in fact, one of the main components of acceptance. Before Roger can even attempt to appear trustworthy, however, Mrs. Luella Jones in essence hands him the opportunity to run, to escape. Roger even thinks to himself, “Run, run, run!” The fact that he does not do so suggests that Roger may be trying to convince himself to run. When one attempts to convince himself to do something, he is trying to go against his gut instinct. This implies that Roger, having undergone a mental...