It is very difficult to desire things in life and not be able to afford them. Regardless of how wealthy a person is, there is usually something that is out of reach. The short story “Thank You M’am” by Langston Hughes looks at this very problem, wanting something that is out of reach. The main character Roger wants blue suede shoes and tries to steal money to buy them, but in the end, he gains more than shoes. Roger changes throughout the story from a naïve and impulsive boy, to a boy with a greater understanding about trusting and appreciating people. In the beginning of the story Roger is naïve and impulsive. He attempts to snatch Mrs. Jones’s pocketbook but ends up getting knocked on his “blue-jean sitter” ( ). He naively believes that stealing is an easy and reasonable solution to his problem, wanting blue suede shoes. He clearly has not thought out his plan but acts on impulse because he is easily overcome by Mrs. Jones, an elderly woman. He further shows how naïve his is when he responses “Yes’m” and “No’m” to Mrs. Jones’ questions about washing his face, eating and stealing ( ). His weak responses indicate that he is scared and uncertain about what to do in this situation.
He is intimidated immediately by Mrs. Jones which demonstrates that he is a naïve criminal acting on impulse without a well-thought out plan. Although Roger begins the story naïve and impulsive, he changes and gains understanding in the end. Through his encounter with Mrs. Jones, Roger learns a valuable lesson about trusting people and becomes grateful for help from a stranger in the end. When Mrs. Jones takes Roger back to her room, he does not steal from her even though he easily could when she turns her back on him ( ). He sees how she is willing to take care of him, a perfect stranger, and wants her to trust him. He appreciates the compassion she shows for him and it encourages him to repay her by showing her respect and gaining her trust. Roger gains further understanding when Mrs. Jones says that she too made poor choices because she wanted things she could not have and implies that she stole too when she was young ( ).
Roger is able to see that many people are like him and struggle with wanting things but stealing is not the solution. Through Mrs. Jones’s kindness and generosity, Roger sees that asking people for help is a better approach to stealing. As a result, Roger leaves the encounter with Mrs. Jones with more than the ten dollars she gave him to buy the shoes, he leaves with a better understanding about how to trust and treat people. Roger began as an impulsive naïve boy, but learned a valuable lesson in trusting and appreciating people. Through this story, Langston Hughes wants to remind the reader of how important it is for people to trust and rely on each other. Life can be very difficult; however, life is a lot easier when people treat other with respect, trust each other and take care of one another.