Why did Roger try to steal Mrs. Jones's purse in "Thank You, M'am" by Langston Hughes?

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Roger claims that the immediate reason for which he tried to steal Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones's purse is that he wanted to buy himself a pair of blue suede shoes. However, she quickly ascertains the larger issues that affect Roger's behavior. She says to him,

You ought to be my son. I would teach you right from wrong. Least I can do right now is to wash your face. Are you hungry?

Although the boy replies in the negative, she makes Roger wash his face (giving him a clean towel and warm water with which to do it), and she asks him again if he has had his dinner. Tellingly, he replies that there is "'nobody home'" at his house. She tells him, then, that they are going to eat, no longer offering him a chance to respond because, as she says,

I believe you're hungry—or been hungry—to try to snatch my pocketbook.

In other words, Mrs. Jones believes that Roger really tried to steal her purse...

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gvansaru | Student

Roger tried to steal Mrs Jones's purse because he wanted to buy a pair of blue suede shoes.