What is the climax in "Thank You, Ma'am?"

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The climax of the story is when Roger does not leave.

In this story, Roger is a boy who tries to steal a lady’s purse.  The lady, Mrs. Jones, decides to take him home instead of screaming, giving him the purse, or telling the police.

Mrs. Jones is one tough lady.  She is also a good-hearted one.  Most people would not take a boy home who had just tried to rob them.  You usually feel violated when you have been robbed.  Yet Mrs. Jones saw something in Roger.  Instead of a hoodlum, she saw a human being.  She saw a boy.

"I’m very sorry, lady, I’m sorry," whispered the boy.

"Um-hum! And your face is dirty. I got a great mind to wash your face for you. Ain’t you got nobody home to tell you to wash your face?"

"No’m," said the boy.

Mrs. Jones is aware that Roger just needs guidance, and she decides that she might as well be the one to give it to him.  This means that Mrs. Jones is going to be the neighborhood mom to Roger that night.

Mrs. Jones takes Roger home and tells him to wash his face.  Roger has a choice whether he will go to the sink or run.  He chooses not to run.  Later, he makes sure that she knows that he will not run.  This is the climax.  Roger can run, or stay.  Roger chooses to stay.

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 other eye, if she wanted to. He did not trust the woman not to trust him. And he did not want to be mistrusted now.

Climax is when everything changes in a story.  It is the story's turning point.  Up until this point, Roger has been Mrs. Jones’s captive.  She was holding onto him, and he had the choice to run or not.  Roger decides not to run.  He does not want her to think badly of him.

Roger has made the decision to be on the right side of the law, and the right side of Mrs. Jones.  She shares her story with him, and asks him why he stole the money (for shoes).  It is important for her that he know that she empathizes with him.  To her, he is just a misguided youth. 

Roger even asks her if she needs anything from the store after this.  This shows that he really has changed.  Roger may not be a perfect citizen from now on, but I doubt that he will steal any more purses.  He has realized that there are people attached to them.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
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