In "Thank you Ma'am" by Langston Hughes, when Roger enters Mrs. Jones’s room, she leaves the door open. Why?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the short story “Thank You, Ma’am” by Langston Hughes, Mrs. Jones leaves the door open to her room as a lesson in trust and decision-making. When the pair arrives at Mrs. Jones’ room she has Roger wash his face and comb his hair so he will be presentable to eat supper with her. At that point, he thinks to himself that he could run but he makes the choice to stay. Mrs. Jones does not pry, she does not scold; she treats him as visitor in her home, which is not what he expected. During their conversation, she reveals that she did some unacceptable things in her youth. She goes behind the screen to warm up the ham, lima beans, and cocoa, leaving the door open with her purse sitting on the daybed within Roger’s reach. He could grab it and run, but he does not. Roger even offers to go to the store to show that he is to be trusted, but Mrs. Jones does not need anything. While she is behind the screen, he moves to the opposite side of the room where he thinks she can see him out of the corner of her eye. He wants Mrs. Jones to trust him as much as she wants to.