In the short story, “Thank You, M’am,” a young boy named Roger attempts to steal the purse of Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones as she walks home from work late at night. As Roger grabs her purse, he falls over and she proceeds to kick him. She notices that he has dirt on his face and questions why he is out late at night. The boy denies that he is hungry, and only states that he needs money to buy blue suede shoes.
Instead of calling the police, Mrs. Jones carries him to her home and tells him to wash his face. She realizes that blue suede shoes are considered a luxury in this poor neighborhood, and that Roger probably is hungry and needs money to buy food. She offers him lima beans and ham. Even though the boy feels shamed, he agrees to sit down with her and eat dinner instead of running away.
In a spirit of forgiveness, Mrs. Jones offers him food, kindness, and talks with him. After they also share dessert cake, she asks that he behave and gives him money to buy the shoes. She tells him that he can use the money for anything. She gives him a choice, so he can feel more in control of his life. Roger thanks her and she shuts her door. She doesn’t have to be forgiving. Yet, she offers Roger a hot meal, teaches him about having manners and gives him the opportunity to make good decisions.