In Thank You M'am by Langston Hughes, why does Mrs Jones give Roger $10? 

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mrs Luella Bates Washington Jones from Thank You M'am by Langston Hughes is a very direct and honest woman with high expectations of everyone she meets, regardless of their circumstances. When Roger tries to steal her purse, she is disappointed that a boy would do such a thing but understands the motivation behind this boy with the dirty face and no food in his stomach. She recognizes that he needs a firm hand because he has "got nobody home to tell you to wash your face” and she resolves to clean him up and get to the bottom of his need to steal her purse. She assumes that Roger wants money so that he can buy food and when he reveals that he actually wants to buy a pair of blue suede shoes she is not angry but remembers when she "wanted things I could not get." Mrs Jones gives Roger the $10 so that he doesn't steal it from someone else and to perhaps give him an opportunity to reflect on his good fortune. It's not necessary to steal to get what you want. Roger can't express his feelings of gratitude but perhaps it's enough to make him think twice before he is tempted to steal again. 

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Thank You, M'am

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