In the story "Thank you, M'am," is Mrs. Jones wise or foolish to trust Roger? Why?

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Mrs. Jones's actions in "Thank You, Ma'am" are a calculated risk and can only be judged as wise when considered in retrospect.  She reaches out to a total stranger, a boy who has tried to rob her, and focuses on his needs, not his misdeed.  Wisdom is acquired through observation...

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Mrs. Jones's actions in "Thank You, Ma'am" are a calculated risk and can only be judged as wise when considered in retrospect.  She reaches out to a total stranger, a boy who has tried to rob her, and focuses on his needs, not his misdeed.  Wisdom is acquired through observation and experience, and Mrs. Jones has seen her share of deprivation. She understands what it can provoke in a person, particularly a young person without sufficient guidance.  Mrs. Jones possesses the ability to size Roger up and see that he is a young man who can benefit and learn from kindness instead of punishment. Mrs. Jones is wise enough to understand that physically punishing Roger, which she shows she is capable of doing, or turning him over to the police, are not what Roger needs.  She is not ready to write him off as perhaps the majority of people in a similar position would do. 

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I think she is wise. Keep in mind that she doesn't trust him initially. After all, he tries to steal her purse. When he loses his balance, she kicks him in the rear, picks him up by his shirt front, then shakes him "until his teeth [rattle]." It's clear from the beginning that she intends to spend some time with him, as she asks if he'll run if she turns him loose. When he says yes, she says she won't turn him loose, then. 

Mrs. Jones intuits that the boy, Roger, is on the streets because he doesn't have much of a home to go to, so she "mothers" him. She tells him he will wash his face tonight since no one else is making him do it. Once she gets him to her home, she gives him the choice to run or comply with her wishes. She tells him to go to the sink and wash his face, then turns him loose, at which point he has a choice to do it or run. If he runs, she has lost nothing, other than the chance to show him what it's like to be loved and cared for. He chooses to comply with her wishes, though, which signals that he's open to being treated with respect. He, in turn, understands that to be treated with respect, he must behave respectfully. 

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