What does Mrs. Jones do to win Roger's trust?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Langston Hughes short story "Thank You M'am" Mrs. Jones develops trust with Roger through her actions not her words. 

Mrs. Jones is familiar with the circumstances in which Roger is growing up in their Harlem neighborhood. Although she drags him to her home after he attempts to steal her pocketbook, she sets him loose with the door wide open. She simply tells him to go wash up and does not ask questions about his family situation. Her door is wide open and it is up to Roger to decide to run out or to stay. Mrs. Jones does not demand anything of the boy, but she does offer him food and companionship. 

Mrs. Jones confides in Roger by telling him a bit about her past mistakes and demonstrating how she turned her life around. Although her surroundings and food offerings are meager, she came by them through honest work. 

Another way she shows Roger her trust is when she walks behind the curtain to make supper, and she leaves her purse sitting in plain sight. Roger moves so that she can see him at all times. She trusts him enough not to hide her purse. She does not mandate he stay with her or admonish him not to touch her things.

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. He did not trust the woman not to trust him. And he did not want to be mistrusted now.

 

By the time they have shared a meal and conversation, Roger wants Mrs. Jones to trust him. He responds to her kindness and willingness to share what little she has.