Roger is depicted as a desperate and impulsive fifteen-year-old boy who attempts to steal Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones's purse in order to buy a pair of blue suede shoes. Roger resides in the inner-city and lives in poverty. Roger is described as a frail boy with a dirty face, wearing distressed blue jeans and tennis shoes. After Roger falls to the ground and Mrs. Jones grabs him by the collar, she immediately notices his dirty face and tells him that he will get washed this evening. As Mrs. Jones drags Roger to her home, he demonstrates his polite, honest nature by truthfully answering her questions and apologizing for his actions.
When Roger arrives at Mrs. Jones's home, he struggles with the decision to flee or stay and wash his face. Roger chooses to wash his face and attempts to prove to Mrs. Jones that he is trustworthy by sitting far away from her purse. Langston Hughes writes,
He [Roger] did not trust the woman not to trust him. And he did not want to be mistrusted now.
Although Roger is a shy, timid boy, he stays for dinner and is grateful for Mrs. Jones's hospitality. He respectfully listens to Mrs. Jones speak and politely offers to go to the store for her. Roger is relieved that she does not call the police on him and is awestruck when Mrs. Jones gives him ten dollars to buy blue suede shoes. In conclusion, Roger is a frail, desperate teenager who lives in poverty but is a polite, docile adolescent.