In "Thank You, M'am," what was the woman’s initial reaction when the boy tried to snatch her purse?  

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Roger tries to steal Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones's purse in "Thank You, M'am" by Langston Hughes, Mrs. Jones does what most other people would do and she reacts strongly to the situation. However, whereas others may become aggressive or even emotional, she does not. She is portrayed as a "large woman" and the fact that her purse also seems proportionately large because it holds everything except "hammer and nails" indicates that she is not likely to be afraid of any event. She is walking alone late at night and her reaction to Roger's attempted theft reveals a levelheadedness that belies the situation. Others may run away or shout and call for help, not knowing how to manage the problem facing them. Mrs. Jones, however, immediately has an understanding of what is going on and handles it in a practical way, as if what Roger has done is nothing unusual. She does not overreact, and even though Roger is a complete stranger, her reactions show that she is more disappointed (such as she may have been of her own children) than angered or disgusted with Roger's behavior.  


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Thank You, M'am

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