How does the author use foreshadowing in the story "Thank You Ma'am"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Langston Hughes generates foreshadowing, or hints of things to come, with the characterization of Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones, a large woman who is both physically and spiritually strong. She is "old school," as she might describe herself; that is, she does not tolerate dishonesty, stealth, or indolence. This characterization foreshadows Mrs. Jones's having no problem defending herself and her principles, as well as taking a dominant role.

In the opening paragraph of the exposition of "Thank You, Ma'am," Mrs. Jones is described as "a large woman" who walks alone at eleven o'clock at night. When the boy runs up to grab her purse, she "simply turned around and kicked him...." Then, she picks up this boy and shakes him until his teeth rattle.
The fact that Mrs. Jones reverses roles with her would-be assailant in the exposition of the story adds humor, but it also foreshadows her dominant role in the narrative. She scolds Roger for lying and tells him that she will take him with her and wash his face in her residence. So, although she is formidable, Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones hints at her warm, caring nature as she invites Roger into her home, feeds him, and even gives him money with which to buy the shoes he desires so he will not feel the need to steal.