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In Langton Hughes' short story Thank you, Ma'am, Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones takes Roger home with her after he attempts to snatch her pocketbook. Mrs. Jones take him home because she feels some empathy with his despondent situation. There is also evidence she does not have children but does have motherly concerns for Roger.
The first evidence Mrs. Jones is more than just an upset woman is in her initial meeting with Roger. She asks why his face is so dirty. Her motherly instincts also come to the surface when she states she would teach him right if he were her son. Interestingly, it is the phrasing that suggests she does not have children. She simply states "if you were my son," rather than "if you were one of my children" or "one of my sons." The directness of her statement hints she does not have children.
Further evidence of her empathy for Roger is revealed in the kitchen of her modest room. She tells him she once craved things she could not have and readily admits she has done things she is not proud of to get them. The ending of the story affirms her empathy when she gives Roger ten dollars to get the shoes he wants, but she also gives him words of warning about buying the shoes. In her own way she is raising Roger in the hour she knew him. She understood his plight, fed him and allowed him to grow up a little bit.
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