Ragged Dick by Horatio Alger Jnr
•As the reader is introduced to Richard Hunter, immediately he is referred to as Ragged Dick. This is quite significant as it gives us an idea of Dick’s appearance and the huge contrast between him and characters such as Frank.
•Although the two boys are worlds apart, as more is revealed about Frank and Dick’s characters, there are a lot of similarities between the two boys. Both boys are generous. In the beginning, even though Frank’s generosity is spurred on by the will to preserve his gentlemanly image, it still echoes the moral of kindness and and giving back to those less fortunate. Dick, although he isn’t in the best place in life, also manages to display acts of generosity. On more than one occasion he buys his fellow bootblacks food to eat.
•Both boys are honest which they learn is quite rewarding especially for Dick.
•Dick... “...always ready to joke.” takes his misfortunes in good stride and is always looking for opportunities, and if not chances, to create an opportunity for himself in comparison to Johnny Nolan, whom Dick thinks “...has no ambition.” Dick’s big dreams are shown through his constant association with important figures such as George Washington, The Mayor of New York, Horace Greeley, Peter Cooper etc.
• Dick’s attitude is surprisingly good for someone in his circumstances and doesn’t embody the mentality of the world owing him for a bad start in life. Frank describes him as always being “...in good spirits.” and Mr Whitney goes on to say “You know in this free country poverty in early life is no bar to a man’s advancement.” this line, I think echoes the idealism and the hope that the American Dream stands for and Alger includes encouragement such as this and uses Dick’s life as a microcosm of what society has to offer if you work hard.
•Although Dick has big ambitions it is Frank who ultimately equips Dick with the belief of the reward that comes if you struggle upward, no matter how short changed Dick is. “You may rise in some other way, a good many distinguished men have once been poor boys, there’s hope for you Dick if you’ll try.”
•“I needn’t have been Ragged Dick so long..” Dick’s realisation illustrates a universal message that many American’s believe. You don’t have to entertain a life that you’re not happy with or that’s not fulfilling.