How would you apply the statement "Family integration is important to raise children soundly" to Langston Hughes' "Thank you Ma'm"?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After reading Langston Hughes’ short story “Thank You, M’am,” the statement, “Family integration is important to raise children soundly,” is validated.

It is eleven o’clock at night, in the middle of the city, when Roger, an unkempt, young man resorts to thievery in order to get money for a pair of shoes. The victim of his failed robbery attempt is Mrs. Louella Bates Jones Washington, a proud, astute woman on her way home from work. When she has him in her grip she asks him if there is anyone home to remind him to wash his face. He replies there is not. She tells him that if he were her son, she would at least make him wash his face.

After she drags him back to her rooming house, she directs him to wash up, while leaving her purse on the bed where he could reach it and run. The two have a heart to heart talk in which Mrs. Jones reveals some of her past to him, but does not embarrass him by asking questions about his home and family life.

In spite of her past transgressions, Mrs. Jones managed to become self-sufficient. She describes her job to Roger, and displays her pride. In the short time they spend together, Mrs. Jones guides Roger to see the importance of being trustworthy. For one night she acts as a surrogate mother to him.

Children are more likely to have trusting relationships with caregivers who are consistent and nurturing, which leads to a number of positive developmental outcomes.

After spending just that one quality evening with Mrs. Jones, Roger changes from a young man on the prowl, to a young man who wants to be trusted, and who was able to show gratitude.

But the boy took care to sit on the far side of the room where he thought she could easily see him out of the corner of her eye, if she wanted to. He did not trust the woman not to trust him. And he did not want to be mistrusted now.