At the very beginning of “Thank You, Ma’m” by Langston Hughes, we are introduced to a tough woman named Mrs. Jones. Roger, a 14- or 15-year-old boy, attempted to steal her purse. Since the strap of Mrs. Jones’ purse broke, Roger ended up falling to the ground and Mrs. Jones confronted him.
First, she demanded that he pick up her purse and hand it to her. Next, she asked him a series of questions in order to gauge his character. She asked if he was ashamed of himself, to which he responded that he was. However, when Mrs. Jones asked him why he attempted to steal her purse, he denied his responsibility. She then asked him if she were to let him go if he would run or not, and very honestly Roger responded that he would.
Sensing that Roger did not see the severity of his actions or did not feel sorry for what he did, Mrs. Jones figured that she could teach him a lesson. She reveals her true intentions to Roger when she says, “You ought to be my son. I would teach you right from wrong." In other words, Mrs. Jones is momentarily taking Roger into her care so that he can learn from his mistakes.