Thank You Ma'Am Character Analysis

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When great teachers are mentioned, most people think of biology instructors, football coaches, Girl Scout leaders, and others in similar positions. However, some of the most illustrious teachers may be individuals not normally classified as teachers. In the short story "Thank You Ma'am," Rogers encounters such an invigorating teacher on a city sidewalk, Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones. Mrs. Jones is a complex character who demonstrates traits that may seem contradictory on the surface. At first, she is exemplified as frightfully aggressive and physically imposing. The author described her directly as “a large woman with a large purse.” When Roger, the young man in the story, tries to steal her purse, she proves to be the stronger and quicker of the two characters. She throws him off balance, kicks him swiftly in the behind, and then picks him up and shakes him “until his teeth rattled.” She ends up dragging the boy home, warning him ominously, “When I get through with you, sir, you are going to remember Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones.” By having use her full name in this passage, it shows that Mrs. Jones is a profound character who means to teach Roger a lesson. Given her physical size and power, she intends to beat the boy. However, through her words and actions, it is gradually revealed that Mrs. Jones is also amiable, sympathetic, and altruistic. For example, she shows compassion for Roger by not calling the police to report him as a thief. Instead, she takes him home with her and feeds him dinner. She speaks to him firmly, but also in a caring and motherly way that shows her concern for his well-being, telling him to “Run that comb through your hair so you will look presentable,” and “Eat some more, son.” Mrs. Jones’s generosity to Roger extends beyond her sharing a meal with him. Roger tells her that he tried to steal her purse in order to get

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