What is the climax of the story "Thank You, M'am" by Langston Hughes?

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kathik | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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In the short story, "Thank You, M'am," by Langston Hughes, a boy named Roger tries to steal Mrs. Jones' purse. Mrs. Jones takes him to her room in a boarding house despite his pleas for her to let him go. She makes him wash his face and when she finds out there is nobody at his home, she tells him they will share supper. Roger worries that Mrs. Jones will take him to jail, but she just asks him why he tried to take her purse and then talks to him, showing him understanding. The climax in the story comes when Mrs. Jones leaves the boy alone, so that she can cook their food.

"Mrs. Jones got up and went behind the screen. The woman did not watch the boy to see if he was going to run now, nor did she watch her purse which she left behind her on the day-bed. But the boy took care to sit on the far side of the room where he thought she could easily see him out of the corner of her eye, if she wanted to." (Hughes 3)

Roger could have easily run. He could have easily taken her purse, which was right there, but he does not. Instead, he stays, and he and Mrs. Jones eat together. The story ends with her giving him money for the shoes he wants.