Roger is a young African American youth, about "fourteen or fifteen" years old. He is dressed in blue jeans and sneakers, but it is a pair of "blue suede shoes" that he wants most. Mrs. Jones is dismayed by his dirty face, and when she gets him to her house, she sees that he washes his face and combs his hair. Despite his act of attempted purse-snatching, he is a polite young man, repeatedly answering Mrs. Jones with "Yes'm" and "No'm." The large woman frightens Roger, and "sweat popped out on the boy's face." He is on the streets late at night because there is no one at his own home to look after him. He thinks about running when he has the chance inside Mrs. Jones' house, but he thinks better of it.
He did not trust the woman not to trust him. And he did not want to be mistrusted now.
He seems hungry, and he gladly accepts the meager meal offered him by the woman. And after Mrs. Jones gives him the $10 to buy his coveted shoes, he manages to thank her, but the door slams before he can tell her "Thank you, ma'am."