by Isabella Z.
Kindness can make big impacts on people’s lives in a positive or negative way. In the two short stories “Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes and “All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury, kindness is a big factor. In “Thank You Ma’am,” a young boy tries to steal a women’s purse. Instead of reporting him to the police, the women (Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones) takes him home and feeds him. However, in “All Summer in a Day,” Margot gets locked up in a closet by her fellow classmates because they are jealous of her. These two short stories differ from each other due to the different concepts of kindness used.
In “Thank You Ma’am,” the concept of kindness is focused on the act of giving and being generous. A perfect example of this concept is Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones. When the young boy (Roger) tries to steal her purse to buy himself some blue suede shoes, she grabs him by the neck and drags him to her house. There she says, “‘So you set down while I fix us something to eat. You might run that comb through your hair so you will look presentable,’” (Hughes). Roger then realizes that Mrs. Jones is going to make dinner for the both of them. She is willing to share her food with somebody who just tried to steal from her which means that she begins to trust Roger. After they eat, Mrs. Jones tells him “‘Now, here, take this ten dollars and buy yourself some blue suede shoes,’” (Hughes). Mrs. Jones gives him the money needed buy his shoes even though he hasn’t done anything for her. And even though he tried to steal from her, Mrs. Jones trusts Roger enough to give him a second chance to right his wrongs (to not steal anymore). Her act of generosity changed Roger’s life forever because he had never experienced such kindness before. Mrs. Jones actions add to the theme off how kindness can impact people’s life positively. From this story we can learn how beneficial it is to treat someone with kindness.
On the other hand, “All Summer in a Day” focuses on the consequences of being unkind. This concept is displayed between the schoolchildren and Margot. Margot’s classmates are jealous of her because she remembers the sun and they don’t. So “they surged about her, caught her up and bore her, protesting, and then pleading, and then crying, back into a tunnel, a room, a closet, where they slammed and locked the door,” (Bradbury). Her classmates end up locking her up in a closet so she won’t be able to see the sun this time. They let their jealousy and envy propel their actions. While the sun comes out, the schoolchildren run around for an hour but then it starts to rain again. When the sun goes away, the children finally realize what a horrible thig they have done. In fact, “they stood as if someone had driven them, like so many stakes, into the floor… They could not meet each other’s glances. Their faces were solemn and pale.” (Bradbury). The children feel so guilty that they can’t even look at each other. The consequences of the children’s actions was that Margot wasn’t able to see the sun and the children feel awful for what they have done to her. This adds to the story because it teaches us that we shouldn’t be unkind because there will be consequences.
In each of the short stories, kindness has a big impact on characters. However while kindness does play a big part in each story, the concept of kindness varies. One story focuses on what happens when kindness is shown, while the other focuses on the consequences of being unkind. Based off of these different uses of kindness, we can compare and contrast “Thank You Ma’am” to “Summer all in a Day.” In addition these stories teach us that just a little act of kindness can be monumental.