What does the woman give the boy to eat in "Thank You, M'am"? What does this tell you about her financial situation?

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When Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones grabs Roger by the collar and drags him home after he attempts to steal her pocketbook, she demonstrates her generosity and hospitality by allowing him to wash his face while she prepares a nice meal for him. Mrs. Jones heats up some lima beans and ham that she had in her icebox and also gives Roger a nice cup of cocoa. After the two eat dinner, Mrs. Jones offers Roger a slice of her ten-cent cake. Mrs. Jones's meal is hearty and indicates that her finances are rather stable. Ham, lima beans, and cake do not make up an expensive meal, but the reader does recognize that Mrs. Jones is not poor either.

Given the fact that Mrs. Jones tells Roger that she is employed at a hotel beauty-shop, the reader can infer that she is more than likely a member of the lower/middle class. Mrs. Jones's humble salary only emphasizes her generosity, hospitality, and benevolence. She also gives Roger ten dollars to purchase a pair of blue suede shoes, which surprises the impressionable teenager, who feels grateful and appreciative.

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After taking him back to her home, the old woman prepares the young boy something to eat. She fetches him some lima beans and ham from the icebox and heats them up; they're going to be served with a nice mug of cocoa. This looks like it's going to be quite a modest meal. Our initial impressions are confirmed when the old lady proceeds to cut the boy a half of her ten-cent cake. Such cheap and simple food indicates that the old lady likely doesn't have much money. She tells the boy that she works in a beauty shop at a hotel. We don't know for sure, but we can imagine that it's not a particularly well-paid job. Even so, that simply makes the old lady's hospitality, kindness, and generosity—she gives the boy ten dollars to go buy a pair of shoes—all the more admirable.

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