What is Roger's goal in "Thank You, M'am"?

Expert Answers
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Roger’s goal was to get a new pair of blue suede shoes.

I know it sounds like an Elvis song, but that what was what Roger wanted! He tried to steal a woman’s purse to pay for the blue suede shoes. The problem is that he chose the wrong target. He chose a woman who was much tougher than he was.

Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones does not give up her purse. She tackles Roger and brings him home with her so that she can wash his face and give him something to eat. She also wonders what he was doing out at 11 o’clock at night not having eaten.

“Then we’ll eat,” said the woman, “I believe you’re hungry—or been hungry—to try to snatch my pockekbook.”

“I wanted a pair of blue suede shoes,” said the boy.

Mrs. Jones tells him that if he wanted new shoes he just had to ask her for them, instead of trying to steal her pocketbook. She is an unusual woman. She seems to care about Roger even though she doesn’t know him and he tried to rob her.

After a while she said, “I were young once and I wanted things I could not get.” There was another long pause. … The woman said, “Um-hum! You thought I was going to say but, didn’t you? You thought I was going to say, but I didn’t snatch people’s pocketbooks. Well, I wasn’t going to say that.”

Mrs. Jones tells Roger that she has done things she is not proud of. She understands where he is coming from. Even if she doesn’t know him, she knows his circumstances. He is lonely and neglected, and obviously misguided. She wants him to understand that you can make a bad choice and learn from it. This decision does not have to define his life.