A character trait tells a reader more about a character's personality than it does about physical appearance. However, it is often descriptions of physical appearance that help the reader understand the character and his or her unique characteristics. In "Thank You, M'am" by Langston Hughes, Hughes immediately describes Mrs. Jones as a "large woman." Even her name, Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones suggests she has a strong personality. The contents of her purse also reinforce this visual image that Hughes creates of an imposing woman who has high expectations of those around her and will accept no excuses for bad behavior, regardless of circumstances. She does however, accept her own role in helping Roger to have a better understanding of right and wrong, even though he is a complete stranger.
Mrs. Jones is genuine and concerned to the point of mothering Roger. It obviously comes naturally to her and the nurturing is instinctive. This further reveals her compassion and refusal to judge others based on isolated incidents. She sees Roger as a boy who is in need of some advice and guidance and who could easily be badly influenced, but at the same time who could benefit from her own influence. This shows that she has the strength of her own convictions. Mrs. Jones is therefore kind, compassionate, intuitive, patient, strong, self-assured and is a very good role model for Roger.