How can the reader learn a lesson in the story Thank You, M'am?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Thank You, M'am by Langston Hughes is a story that certainly carries a message for its reader. Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones is a woman who feels a certain social responsibility towards others. This is apparent in her treatment of Roger. The easiest thing for Mrs. Jones to do would be to take Roger to the police station after he tries to steal her "pocketbook." However, she is very aware of his dirty face and his appearance leads her to presume that he needs far more than any punitive measures the police or a judge could take against him. Her self-awareness indicates that she knows that her actions could have a direct effect on Roger and so, instead of doing that which is most convenient, she shows compassion for Roger and gives him the benefit of the doubt, believing that his actions were not malicious and so he can learn to be a better person from this experience. 

The reader can also learn to be a better person by not ignoring their own surroundings and by showing the same level of forgiveness and understanding to those who may not seem deserving. Mrs. Jones also teaches the reader not to judge others and her actions reveal the value of second chances. Ultimately,the reader can learn to have no expectations of his or her own and to act purely out of kindness in making a valuable contribution to society, however seemingly small. Mrs Jones does not expect to hear from Roger again. She does not expect to receive her $10 back and she is satisfied to have potentially made a difference in Roger's life.  

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