Question #24339

What does "A stoop often has potted plants or children on it" mean? Thanks before hand.?

recently I read a short story " Thank you ma'm" by Langstone Hughes and I came acrose the word "barren stoop" and I wondered what "barren" meant there! The boy wanted to say something else other than, "Thank you, ma'am" to Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones, but...

  • busterwasmycat

barren means empty or perhaps vacant. nothing there. the stoop is the porch steps, basically, or perhaps steps with essentially no porch but maybe a slightly larger platform than the steps themselves. People often put plants on the stoop as decorations, and kids used to hang out on the stoop all the time. Don't see that much these days, of course. kids tend to be inside.

  • bluebellbkk

Plants and children are living things. If a stoop has plants and children on it, the household is alive, vigorous.

  • Anonymous

I think of stoop as mostly a New York City term. It refers to the front steps and landing found on many small brick or brownstone walkup (elevator-less) apartment buildings. "Barren" just means "bare," with nothing on it. To suggest that it means the woman living there was infertile is overly imaginative.

  • Gypsyfish

"Barren' is also the word used for women who cannot have children. The choice of it rather than the word "bare" suggests that the stoop is barren because the woman had no children, and so the house is not full of life.

  • theKingofAllTrolls

You find Stoops in Brooklyn and other parts of NYC. Having Stuff and Activity on them suggests a Living Household with Things to Do and People to Meet. A Barren One with Nothing going on suggests a Household Slowly Dying with No Purpose and No Soul.

  • ?

Langston Hughes chose every single word he used on purpose.

  • vivienne

It means a stoop with nothing on it. In this context it means exactly that - the boy was atvthe bottom of a stoop with nothing on it. Maybe the woman was poor and could not afford to decorate it

  • oikoσ

"Stoop" seems to be a New York term, with no equivalent elsewhere in the USA. It's sort of like the front porch for an apartment house and is where the children sit when they are not running around like demons. As far as "barren" vs "bare", I suspect that Hughes meant to intimate that there should have been something on the stoop but it was missing.

  • roderick_young

Barren means bare or empty, but also has an implication of sadness or loneliness.

  • Chi girl

A stop is a small porch and the few stairs leading up to it.