Using the events below, construct the plot "Thank You, Ma'm."-Mrs. Jones drags Roger to her house. -Roger wants blue suede shoes. -Mrs. Jones and Roger eat a meal together. -Roger goes home. -Roger...

Using the events below, construct the plot "Thank You, Ma'm."

-Mrs. Jones drags Roger to her house.

-Roger wants blue suede shoes.

-Mrs. Jones and Roger eat a meal together.

-Roger goes home.

-Roger sits far away  from the purse.

-Roger tries to steal a purse.

Expert Answers
hgarey71 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The events listed in the question about Langston Hughes' short story "Thank You, M'am" are in a different order than they happen in the story. The fact that Roger wants the blue suede shoes is what prompts him to try to steal Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones's purse. When he tries to grab the large purse, the strap breaks and he falls backward, thwarting his getaway plans. After scolding him, she begins to ask him questions. She notices that he is not clean, and determines from his actions that he doesn't know right from wrong.

" '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?' 'No'm,' said the being-dragged boy."  

Mrs. Jones drags Roger back to her house in a half-nelson. She makes him wash his face and asks if he is hungry. Even though her methods are unorthodox, readers can make a reasonable inference that Mrs. Jones is showing kindness to the boy by caring for his needs. She shows him respect by asking his name and offering to make him a meal. Because of this kindness, and the trust that Mrs. Jones places in the boy by going behind the screen and leaving the purse beside him, he doesn't want to violate her trust. While Mrs. Jones is cooking them lima beans and ham, Roger sits as far away from the purse as he can. When Mrs. Jones is finished cooking on her gas hot plate, the two share a meal. After they are done eating and chatting, Mrs. Jones gives Roger ten dollars to buy the blue suede shoes. All he can manage to say is "Thank you, m'am," and then Roger goes home.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Much of this graphic organizer can be completed in just thinking openly about the cause and effect relationship present in the short story.  Roger wants these blue suede shoes.  We don't know this until later on, but this is what initiates his need to steal.  His desire to want these shoes compels him to attempt, or try, to steal a purse.  This is merely an attempt because Mrs. Jones is not someone who will be easily bullied into submission.  She repels Roger's attempts and drags Roger to her house.  After washing up, Roger does not want to be the victim of mistrust with the woman, so he sits far away from the purse and in plain sight of Mrs. Jones. She heats dinner for both of them as they eat a meal together.  Finishing the meal, she gives him money for the shoes and asks him to leave.  Presumably, after Roger is left standing at the front door and wanting to say what he could not, Roger goes home.