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The characters Dick Hunter (Ragged Dick) and Benjamin Franklin are alike because they both have strong work ethics and are compassionate, while also different from each other because of their attitude towards learning
One of Benjamin Franklin’s defining characteristics is his work ethic. Someone once commented on how hard Franklin worked in his print shop, saying he “is superior to anything I ever saw… I see him still at work when I go home from the club, and he is at work again before his neighbours are out of bed” (Franklin 59). Franklin knew that hard work led to being successful, and this paid off later in his life when he was able to enjoy his successes. Ragged Dick also understood this, and this is one of the first things we learn about him. After shining shoes in the morning, Dick sits down in a restaurant and orders breakfast for himself. Shortly after, his friend Johnny, also a shoe shiner, joins him. Johnny didn’t have the money to pay for his own breakfast, so Dick decided to treat him. When Dick asks Johnny why he doesn’t have money, Johnny says he can’t afford it, to which Dick replies “well, you might if you tried. I keep my eyes open. That’s the way I get jobs. You’re lazy, that’s what’s the matter” (Alger 9). Dick understood that if he worked hard, he would have more money to spend, and would be better off overall. As a result of the hard work of both Franklin and Dick, these two characters were perceived more positively than they would have otherwise been; Franklin’s paper was rumored to be doomed to fail, and Dick was just one of many homeless boys who shined shoes. By having such strong work ethics and being so diligent, they were able to not only succeed financially, but advance themselves as their lives progressed.
Franklin and Dick both learned what it was like to be successful through hard work, but they also knew what it was like to struggle. For this reason, both of them were compassionate and charitable. They both, in many instances, helped their friends out with either money or work. Franklin’s friend Ralph, who had accompanied him to England, did not bring any money with him, so Franklin would let him borrow money, in one instance saying “I had fifteen pistols, so he borrowed occasionally from me while he was looking out for business” (Franklin 42). Franklin was kind and willing to help out those who were less fortunate than him, and his work ethic allowed him a bit of extra income that he could use on other people. Dick was also willing to help out his friends if they needed it. After learning that Fosdick, Dick’s friend, had no set place to sleep at night, Dick offered to let him stay in his room, telling Fosdick “you must go home with me. I guess my bed will hold two” (Alger 73). Dick had experienced what it was like to sleep on the streets, and he knew that it was uncomfortable and often unsafe. Opening up his room to Fosdick is a perfect example of how compassionate and charitable Dick was. Franklin and Dick were both charitable because they acknowledged that, while they may not be exceptionally fortunate themselves, they were more fortunate than some others, and when they had the opportunity to help someone do something or give/loan them money, they almost always did everything they could to help.
While Franklin and Dick do share a lot of traits and similarities, the two are also unalike in multiple ways. One of the main ways is how they both viewed education and learning. Franklin was enamored with learning, and he aspired to learn new things as often as possible. When learning Italian, Franklin would play chess with his friend, and “the victor in every game should have a right to impose a task, either in parts of the grammar to be got by heart, or in translation, et cetera.” (Franklin 94). This would not only help to hone Franklin’s language skills, but also his logic skills; learning two skills at once was a win-win situation for Franklin. Dick, on the other hand, did not treat learning with the same level of enthusiasm that Franklin had, and this is apparent when Fosdick works with him to become literate. When asked about his prior history with education, Dick tells Fosdick that he had only attended school for two days, and that he would get punished “for indulgin’ in a little harmless amoosement” (Alger 76). Understandably, Dick didn’t see school and learning as vital to his life, whereas Franklin saw it as one of the most crucial aspects of his life. Dick had learned the basics, and it was enough to allow him to do what he needed to do in order to survive. Franklin learned as much as he could through books, pamphlets, and teachers, yet he always wanted to learn more and advance his knowledge.
Ben Franklin and Dick Hunter are similar characters, possessing strong work ethics and innate desires to help people, but they differ in their attitudes towards things like learning and education.
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