Ragged Dick Themes

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The standards of how to live respectably in America are introduced to the nineteenth century public in the raggs-to-riches story of Ragged Dick by Horatio Alger. The themes of hard work, honesty, and courage, are shown as tools, in the various events of Dick’s life as a bootblack, on the streets of New York, that lead to his success in becoming a respectable middle-class citizen. These themes are intended to encourage young boys of the time to do the same, and grow to become respectable members of society. Algers way of reaching young boys was to first publish Ragged Dick not as a novel, but as a twelve part series found in the magazine, The Student and Schoolmate. As found in the magazine series, as well as the novel, Ragged Dick lead an eventful life with many glorified events, that often came about due to incredible strokes of luck. This is where the novel's greatest flaw is manifested. Alger…show more content…
The fact that a child happens to be drowning and Dick happens to be an excellent swimmer seems too staged to be relatable to a real life situation. The encounter between Ragged Dick and Mr.Whitney, which was discussed earlier, displays this same type of staged event. The advantage that dick possesses in the encounter with Mr.Whitney is his characteristic of being an “enterprising young man” (17). This language emphasises a characteristic that is being used simply to allow dick to have success, similarly to the language used to describe Dicks swimming abilities. There is no support for why Dick is a good swimmer or an enterprising young man. His parents died when he was young which would make the reader question how he came to posses the qualities at all. Who taught him to swim? What role models or motivations did he have to become enterprising? Dicks character is not pre-determined, but rather seems to be built as the novel progresses and certain characteristics become convenient to his
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