Many people believe that wrongdoers deserve to be punished and must not be given second chances; however, punishment may not lead to improvement in behavior, as it only reinforces the idea that mistakes are bad and do not improve one’s personality. In the short story “Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes, Mrs. Jones catches a young boy trying to steal her purse. Instead of punishing him, she drags him to her house, feeds him some dinner, and uses the opportunity to teach him about integrity and respect. The story concludes with the young boy more understanding of other people’s perspectives and thankful for Mrs. Jones’ kindness. The author of this story, Langston Hughes, aims to convey the message that people who make mistakes deserve second chances as people may have a justifiable reason for their mistakes, can use the opportunity to reflect and regret their actions, and will learn to give back to a community that shows them some mercy.
People who have a justifiable reason for their mistakes deserve a second chance. For example, if a poor homeless man decides to steal a piece of bread from a bakery, he has an understandable reason to steal because he needs food to survive. However, a person who is stealing for selfish unnecessary reasons does not have a justifiable reason. In this case, it is a very selfish decision because wrongdoing is not an act for survival. In the story, the boy says, “I wanted a pair of blue suede shoes,” and Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones responds, “Well, you didn’t have to snatch my pocketbook to get some suede shoes… You could have asked me.” Instead of giving a cruel response, Mrs. Jones shows that she would be glad to buy the boy some shoes since it is an essential object that everyone needs. Therefore, it is important to consider the context of the mistake before deciding on whether or not to give the person a second chance. If the person has an understandable reason for their mistake, then they deserve a second chance. On the other hand, if the person has stolen for selfish and unnecessary reasons, then they do not deserve a second chance.
Besides, people can also use the opportunity to reflect and regret their actions. Reflecting can help people to better understand why they have made such a mistake and can help them to make better decisions in the future. Regret can be a powerful motivator for people to do better and to make positive changes in their lives, and it is also the first major step to change. In this case, the last paragraph of this story, “The boy wanted to say something else other than ‘Thank you, ma’am’ to Mrs. Luella Bates.” This indicates that the boy who tries to steal starts to regret his decision. In the end, he does realize that stealing is wrong and that it would be better to tell the truth. Although he could not say “Thank you, Ma’am,” he does say thank you to Mrs. Jones, which shows that regret can be a powerful driving force for positive change.
Apart from using the opportunity to reflect and regret their actions, people who make mistakes and receive a second chance will learn to give back to a community that shows them some mercy. This is because they understand that the mistake they have made is not just an isolated act, but one that has an impact on the lives of many people. They feel a sense of guilt for what they have done and want to do something to make up for it and show that they understand how their actions affected others. This often comes in the form of donating to charities, volunteering, or helping people in need. In the story, the boy who steals from Mrs. Jones says: “Do you need somebody to go to the store…maybe to get some milk or something?” This indicates that he wants to make it up to her by helping her out. in some way, even if it means simply helping her with errands. This reflects the guilt he feels for his actions and is an attempt to show her how much he regrets what he did.
People who make mistakes deserve second chances as people may have a justifiable reason for their mistakes, can use the opportunity to reflect and regret their actions, and will learn to give back to a community that shows them some mercy. People make mistakes because they are human and making mistakes is a part of life. Everyone should be given the opportunity to learn and grow from their mistakes, and a second chance allows them the opportunity to show that they are capable of change and redemption. So we should always give one a second chance. Ultimately, giving someone a second chance can be a powerful tool to help them become a better version of themselves.