What could happen next in "Thank You, M'am" if Mrs. Jones and Roger meet after one year?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Thank You, M,am" by Langston Hughes, Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones tries to teach Roger that life can be hard but, whatever happens, he should always "behave." She shows Roger that kindness does have a place and rather than punishing him for his poor judgment in choosing to steal from her, she shows compassion and even gives him the money he wants for his blue suede shoes. She would have been justified in taking him to the police and allowing them to deal with him; no doubt with dire consequences for Roger. However, she wonders if some guidance and a caring attitude might have more of a positive impact on him. She shows him respect, which even Roger knows he doesn't really deserve, she trusts him, feeds him and gives him money, and without asking for anything in return, she simply reminds him to behave himself. Therefore, if they were to meet after a year, there are at least two possible scenarios:

1. Roger tries to steal from her without realizing that it is her and she recognizes him and shows her disappointment. She must then decide whether Roger deserves another chance or whether she should take him to the police station this time. 

2. They have a chance encounter and Roger recognizes Mrs. Jones and wants to tell her how well he is doing and how she helped him turn his life around. Mrs. Jones then recognizes him, shows her delight and invites him back to her house to share another ten-cent cake and to talk about what the future holds for Roger now that he has decided to work hard at school, respect others and wait patiently for the things he wants rather than stealing.

I prefer the latter choice as the story then becomes a moral that others can emulate or copy in their own lives, always giving others the benefit of the doubt and believing in the power of second chances.