In Thank You M'am, what counterclaim could be made in the story?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Thank you, M'am by Langston Hughes is centered on the lesson that Roger, potentially a petty thief, learns from his encounter with Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones. He tries to steal her purse but falls when the strap breaks and Mrs. Jones is able to stop him from getting away. She is intent on teaching Roger a lesson but not by taking him to the police so that he can be charged. Mrs. Jones has recognized something in Roger that she cannot ignore and since he put himself "in contact" with her, she feels duty-bound to give him a better understanding of the difference between right and wrong, or at the very least, send him on his way with a clean face.    

Even though Mrs. Jones is the injured party in this story because Roger tries to steal her purse, she does manage to drag him to her house when all Roger wants is for her "to turn me loose." He struggles and is dragged along the street with Mrs. Jones even putting "a half-nelson about his neck." Therefore the counterclaim could revolve around Roger's objection to being force-ably dragged into Mrs. Jones's home. He then becomes the victim as he is effectively held against his will. If Mrs. Jones had intended to report him to the police, Roger could rebut her statement by suggesting that she in fact kidnapped him. In such an instance, this story would have taken a completely different turn and the well-meaning Mrs. Jones could have been the one in trouble.

Fortunately, this story does not end that way and Mrs. Jones's good intentions do not lead to any counterclaim by Roger. Luckily Roger leaves Mrs. Jones with some glimpse into the goodness of people and with the $10 he needs to buy his "blue suede shoes."