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Hobo Gloves

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There are many things that can be used as a visual shorthand for poverty. Maybe someone lives in Horrible Housing, maybe they drive The Alleged Car, or maybe they huddle around a Trashcan Bonfire on cold nights. Of course, clothing is often used to signal that a character is poor. Dirty, ragged, patched clothing goes a long way towards making it clear that a character is not doing well financially.

One common article of clothing for people who are down on their luck is a pair of knit gloves with no leather and one or more fingers missing. This is generally used to indicate that they live a hardscrabble life, as it heavily implies that they wear these gloves frequently, which in turn implies a lack of a good place to sleep at night. As such, gloves like these are colloquially known as "hobo gloves" (or "bum gloves" in some regions). The exact connotations of these gloves vary. On one hand, the warm and "homey" connotations of knit clothing are often used to make a character appear sympathetic. On the other, they can be used to help give a character a "rough and ready" look.

Compare Bankruptcy Barrel, Barefoot Poverty and Pauper Patches.


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    Comic Books 
  • Watchmen: Walter Kovacs, aka Rorschach, lives the life of a homeless man and wears green gloves with no fingers. Considering he's both a Sociopathic Hero and a Tragic Hero, his gloves carry both the "sympathetic" and "rough" connotations.

    Comic Strips 
  • Doonesbury introduced Elmont and Alice Schwartzman, a homeless couple that scrounge a living in a Washington, DC park. Alice wears fingerless gloves, and any other clothing she can scrounge, to get through chilly nights sleeping al fresco. The hobo gloves disappeared after Alice inherited congresswoman Lacey Davenport's fortune (Lacey mistook Alice for her long-lost sister).
  • Foxtrot: In a series of Yet Another Christmas Carol strips in 1998, "Jasonezer" is led through a scene by the Ghost of Christmas Future where his mother, wearing patched rags including fingerless gloves, is scavenging through his obsolete computer equipment for anything of value.

    Film - Animated 
  • Anastasia: The title character wears a ragged purple pair of these after becoming a Fallen Princess. While she definitely falls into the "sympathetic" side of things, she's also strong-willed and aggressive enough for them to also carry connotations of roughness.
  • Inside Out: Bing-Bong wears these as well as the associated tattered coat to signify that as Riley's Imaginary Friend he's fallen out of importance as she grew up.
  • Fagin from Disney's Oliver & Company is a petty thief who lives in a barge with a bunch of dogs. He's unshaven and disheveled and wears a tuque, a large coat, and brown fingerless gloves.
  • Pinocchio: Jiminy Cricket starts out as a homeless drifter and his first scene involves him sneaking into Geppetto's shop to warm himself by the fire. He wears a pair of these during these scenes, which are in keeping with the rest of his ragged clothing... though he quickly upgrades to a dapper black tuxedo, courtesy of the Blue Fairy.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Both the elderly people that appeared in the first two Home Alone movies (the old man from the first one and the "pigeon lady" from the second) are seen with used gloves, usually in bad states and with their fingers shown.
  • The Prophecy II: In the end, after Gabriel is forced to become mortal he sports a pair of fingerless gloves in his new life as a street busker. He continues wearing them in the next film, though his fortunes have improved a bit.
  • Wartime Romance: One mark of Luba's poverty is the pair of fingerless woolen gloves she wears while hawking pirozhkis on the street during the cold Russian winter.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Call of Warr: Befitting her impoverished state of traveling with the soldiers, Ashes has white, fingerless gloves.
  • Cosmos: One animated segment from the 2014 reboot has Michael Faraday wearing knit fingerless gloves as a young man. At the time he makes them, he's a bookbinder in Victorian England before becoming a lab assistant to Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution (after which he no longer wears them).
  • A Picnic Face sketch on YouTube uses this trope to connote poverty, with a pair of orphans:
    Orphan #1: All I have are these fingerless gloves.
    Orphan #2: And all I have are these gloveless fingers.

  • The Calexico album Feast of Wire includes a photo in the liner notes, a close-up on someone wearing a jacket and fingerless gloves. They're holding their hands over the heating coils of an electric stove for warmth, further implying poverty.

    Video Games 
  • ClayFighter: As part of a character being properly called as HoboCop (a cancelled character from Clayfighter 63⅓ and Sculptor's Cut), he wears a pair of used fingerless gloves with his outfit.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama: Bender wears a pair of these in the episode Xmas Story, when he poses as homeless in order to drink free booze at a Liquor Kitchen for homeless robots.
  • Most of the hobos that appear in The Simpsons wears hobo gloves. Some examples are Chester J. Lampwick (the original creator of Itchy) and Herb Powell (Homer's half-brother) after he lost his fortune.