What are the character traits for the characters in "Thank You, M'am"?

The character traits for Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones in "Thank You, M'am" include toughness, kindness, and generosity. Roger's character traits include willingness to change and an odd sort of respectfulness.

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There are two characters in this great story by Langston Hughes. The first is Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones, and the second is her would-be assailant, Roger.

The first thing we learn about Luella is that she's tough. When Roger tries to snatch her purse, he comes off second best, lying flat on his back on the sidewalk and being kicked "right square in his blue-jeaned sitter." The second thing we learn is that she is scared of nothing. Instead of screaming or running from the youth who tried to attack her, she asks him whether he is ashamed of himself.

Thirdly, we learn that she is extremely maternal. There aren't many people who would criticize someone who just attacked them for having a dirty face. The last trait I will mention about Luella is that she is extremely kind and generous. Not only does she ensure that Roger gets a good meal before he leaves, but she also gives him the money to buy the suede shoes that he wanted.

When it comes to Roger, the first and obvious character trait is slyness and a lack of respect for the law. Over and above this, however, he is shown to be a young man capable of change. After washing his face, Roger realizes that he has the opportunity to run, but he does not. Further evidence of this is that Hughes tells us that he does not want Luella to mistrust him. While it is an odd thing to say about a thief, he is also respectful. When Luella starts asking him questions, he answers her, rather than running away, swearing at her, or making a second attempt to rob her.

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Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones is a strong and savvy woman who is able to wrestle Roger to the ground when he attempts to steal her purse. Although she is physically large and powerful, she has a tender heart. Rather than bringing Roger to the police, she forces him to go home with her, where she feeds him dinner and gives him $10 to buy the shoes he desperately wants. She says that she understands him as she wanted things in her youth that she could not have, and she committed acts she wouldn't want anyone to know about. Though she forces Roger to wash his face, she isn't preachy. She is sympathetic and generous, and she shares what she has with the boy. She cares about what happens to him and advises him to be careful in the future. She won't even really allow Roger to say thank you, as she closes the door in his face as he is trying to thank her for the money.

Roger is about 14 or 15 and is thin and frail. Though he tries to steal Mrs. Jones's purse, he is clearly afraid of her and attempts to get away from her at first. He isn't trusting, and he tells her that he has no one at home. He clearly has a difficult life, and he is amazed that Mrs. Jones will simply give him the money to buy the shoes he wants. He is apparently not used to having sympathetic adults around him or to getting what he wants, which is why he resorts to using force. However, he isn't really the forceful type, and Mrs. Jones senses right away that Roger isn't a bad kid but a kid who simply needs attention.

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There are only two characters, Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones and Roger, in Langston Hughes’ short story “Thank You, M’am.” He uses both direct and indirect characterization to develop their personalities.

Hughes characterizes Mrs. Jones as a dignified, hard-working woman with a no nonsense attitude. Although she is a physically imposing person, her interactions with Roger exemplify her quiet, patient, compassionate nature. Mrs. Jones is walking home alone, late at night, from her job when Roger attempts to steal her pocketbook. Instead of screaming or calling the police, Mrs. Jones takes Roger home and teaches him a life lesson based on her own life experiences. After asking him a number of questions about his home life, she recognizes that Roger is a product of his Harlem environment. She teaches him to expect more from himself. She is kind enough to share her supper with him, but more importantly she shares her own experiences. She lets Roger know that she did some unacceptable things in her past. She cleverly allows Roger to make his own decisions about fleeing her apartment, which teaches Roger to trust in himself.

Roger is a young man who is growing up on the mean streets of Harlem, which greatly influences his character. He tells Mrs. Jones that no one is home at his house, which is why he is unfed and unkempt. Although he is bold enough to steal Mrs. Jones’ pocketbook, Roger demonstrates that he can be trustworthy during the short time he spends in Mrs. Jones’ apartment. He does not take her purse and run away, instead he stays and interacts respectfully with Mrs. Jones. Langston Hughes characterizes Roger as contrite and thankful at the end of the story when Mrs. Jones gives him money to purchase the shoes he wants.

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