There are two turning points for Roger's character in "Thank You, M'am." The first is where Roger chooses to stay with Mrs. Jones and wash his face as told to do: "Roger looked at the door—looked at the woman—looked at the door—and went to the sink ." The...
There are two turning points for Roger's character in "Thank You, M'am." The first is where Roger chooses to stay with Mrs. Jones and wash his face as told to do: "Roger looked at the door—looked at the woman—looked at the door—and went to the sink." The second turning point provides the resolution of the story where, when Mrs. Jones and he are both overcome with emotion, he can manage only to say "Thank you" as she ushers him out onto her "barren stoop" and the street.
"Good-night! Behave yourself, boy!" she said, looking out into the street.
The boy wanted to say something else other than "Thank you, m’am" to Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones, but he couldn’t do so as he turned at the barren stoop and looked back at the large woman in the door.
At the first turning point for Roger's character, Roger rejects running out the open door and instead chooses trusting Mrs. Jones and accepting her offer to share her meal with him. He turns from petty theft and fear and toward Mrs. Jones's compassion and care. It's as though he is thinking—or feeling—that he wishes he were her son and that she would teach him "right from wrong" and that she would make sure he had a clean face and meals to eat.
He looked as if he were fourteen or fifteen, frail and willow-wild, in tennis shoes and blue jeans.
The woman said, "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?"
At the second turning point for Roger's character—following their supper during which Mrs. Jones tells him about her job in the late-night "hotel beauty-shop" and during which she says, "Eat some more, son"—Roger comes to understand the meaning of Mrs. Jones's remark that he could have asked her for those "blue suede shoes" instead of snatching her "pocketbook." Puzzled at first ("M'am?"), he comes to learn about understanding, generosity, and compassion when she gives from the little she has. Because Mrs. Jones hands him ten dollars for "some blue suede shoes," he wants to say something heartfelt and grateful, but all he can manage is a quiet "Thank you." He turns from feeling alone and turns to feeling like part of a shared life.
"Now, here, take this ten dollars and buy yourself some blue suede shoes. And next time, do not make the mistake of latching onto my pocketbook nor nobody else’s—"