How does Mrs. Jones show that she does not want to embarrass Roger or hurt his feelings in "Thank You, M'am"?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Although Mrs. Jones does grab Roger and bring him home when he tries to steal her purse, she is not cruel to him.  In fact, she is actually rather kind.

The woman said, "You ought to be my son. I would teach you right from wrong. Least I can do right now is to wash your face. Are you hungry?"

She makes sure that his face is washed, and tells him to wash his hands.  He does not run when she tells him to wash his hands, and this shows that he is beginning to trust her.  He does not really have anyone in his life that cares about him or takes care of him, and he opens up to her right away.

One of the other ways that Mrs. Jones is kind to Roger and shows that she is not out to hurt his feelings is that she asks him why he stole.  This is really quite extraordinary.  Why would she care?  Most people have probably not asked him why he felt anything or wanted anything, and most crime victims are not interested in the motive of the petty thief.  Yet Mrs. Jones asks.

“…I believe you’re hungry—or been hungry—to try to snatch my pocketbook."

"I wanted a pair of blue suede shoes," said the boy.

"Well, you didn’t have to snatch my pocketbook to get some suede shoes," said Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones. "You could of asked me."

That is very nice of her.  Most people who have had a fifteen year old boy try to steal their purse would not say that they would just give him the money for shoes.  She is showing compassion by not dismissing his interest in shoes.  She even tells him a story from her youth about wanting things she could not get, to show that she understands him.

This story demonstrates the bad and good sides of human nature.  A boy steals a purse from a woman, which likely happens in every city every day.  This story has a twist though, in the delicious irony of the woman attacking the boy.  She doesn’t hurt him, and doesn’t call the police.  Instead, she takes him in and mothers him.  What a lesson for humanity.  They say it takes a village to raise a child.  What Mrs. Jones did was give Roger his dignity back, by inviting him in and showing him that she saw him as a person.

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