Rebecca Harding Davis And Horatio Alger's Analysis

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Nineteenth century industrialism presented the United States with a unique and unprecedented set of problems, as illustrated through the works of Rebecca Harding Davis and Horatio Alger Jr. Although both authors felt compelled to address these problems in their writing, Rebecca Harding Davis’s grasp on the realities faced by the working poor and women was clearly stronger than Alger’s. Not only did Alger possess a naïve view on exactly how much control an individual has over their own circumstances, but he failed to address the struggles of women entirely. As a result, Alger conceived a rather romantic world where the old-fashioned American ideals of hard work, determination, and self-sacrifice enable a young boy to lift himself from poverty.…show more content…
Johnny’s father, an alcoholic who had thrown a flat-iron at his head, was clearly unsafe for Johnny to live with. As a result, Johnny had run away. After a brief stint living on a farm, Johnny returned to New York City (it is suggested that Johnny still loved his father, despite his abusive nature, prompting his return). Johnny had even tried attending school, but found it too difficult to balance homelessness with the demands school places on a person. This condemned Johnny to a life in the streets, boot blacking. However, from the way Dick speaks to Johnny, repeatedly calling him lazy either to his face or as an aside to the reader, one would think he had chosen this life. In reality, Johnny Nolan probably was not lazy, by any means. Alger simply had a poor understanding of how homelessness and surviving in an unsafe environment affects all aspects of an individual’s life. Although the idea that Johnny could have pulled himself from poverty if he had worked harder has the potential to give the reader hope, it’s unfortunately a naïve idea at best. Sometimes, circumstances are simply more oppressive than that, and it takes more than one individual’s hard work to overcome
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