What is an analysis between inside and outside to the two characters (Mrs. Jones and Roger) in the story "Thank You, M'am"?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Langston Hughes' short story "Thank You, M'am" is one of trust and second chances. What happens outside and what happens inside are distinctly different in this story. When Mrs. Jones meets Roger, they are outside, and he tries to steal her handbag. It's late at night and the streets are deserted; yet here is a young boy out on the streets doing things he should not be doing. The fact that is is late speaks of a carelessness or neglect on the part of Roger's mother; the streets are deserted, which indicates that others are not out and up to mischief. This picture of the streets is lonely and somewhat dangerous and certainly hostile.

In contrast, Mrs. Jones' home is hospitable. She does not live as a rich woman, certainly, but she has created a comfortable home environment which appeals to Roger. More importantly, she invites roger to become part of her family and home, even if it is just for a short while. She treats him as she would a son, and he rises to her expectations.

While it's true that Roger will go back to his own virtual home on the streets, he has at least experienced the trust of a stranger who shared her actual home with him.