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Horatio Alger was the author of Ragged Dick. Ragged Dick became the most popular novel of his collection which was published in 1867. This book demonstrates a story about a character by the name of Dick who is a bootblack in New York City. He rises from penury to success due to endless effort and living in his truth despite many obstacles he tends to face. Alger paints an image of Ragged Dick’s character throughout the novel.
One day, Dick came across Tom Wilkins, a New York City street boy, whose mother is facing eviction. Alger points out that Tom Wilkins’ mother was ill and experiencing a time of difficulty. She used to make three to four dollars a week but after she became sick she couldn’t afford to keep up with her expenses. Tom’s mother worried that she would be removed from her residence. Dick felt compassion for them and volunteered to offer Tom Wilkins cash for rent. After Tom’s mother received it she felt less worried:
“….now she feels a good deal easier.”
“I’ve got some more for you, Tom,” said Dick, producing a two-dollar bill from his pocket. (Alger)
In this scene he came to the rescue for Tom’s family. He knew what it felt like to be financially struggling from his very own experience. Dick was a person who had a caring heart and automatically helped a friend in need. Why do you think Dick is so charitable in this story even though he tries to save up?
The day Dick and Henry were walking down towards the South Ferry, was the revealing of his heroic deed. They got onto the ferry boat next to a gentleman and his two kids. The father was showing his daughter a few things and his son happened to sneak away under an unsupervised area. Unfortunately, the son ends up falling into a stream. The child’s father could not swim and would be endangering his own life if he attempted to jump in. He was searching for someone to save his child and offered a reward. Alger points out that Dick is a marvelous swimmer and when he saw the boy, his mind was set on saving him:
Now Dick was an expert swimmer. It was an accomplishment which he had possessed for years, and he no sooner saw the boy fall than he resolved to rescue him. His determination was formed before he heard the liberal offer made by the boy’s father. Indeed, I must do Dick the justice to say that, in the excitement of the moment, he did not hear it at all, nor would it have stimulated the alacrity with which he sprang to the rescue of the little boy. (Alger)
Dick made a choice to save the boy because of his blend of characteristics that reside in him to motivate his willingness to aid. His outlook was on saving a life instead of benefiting from a good effort. What qualities do you think Dick displayed when he rescued the child who was endangered after falling off the ferry?
To be considered as an entrant for a job, Fosdick must make a good impression based on how he’s dressed. Alger notes, that Dick purchases a suit for Fosdick, so he will appear presentable for his job interview.
He was determined that Fosdick should have a good serviceable suit, even if it took all the money they had. The result of their search was that for twenty-three dollars Fosdick obtained a very neat outfit, including a couple of shirts, a hat, and a pair of shoes, besides a dark mixed suit, which appeared stout and of good quality (Alger)
Readers can see that Dick used his money because he wanted Fosdick to look professional and win over the interview. He knew if Fosdick dressed professionally it would show that he has respect for himself, the interviewer, and the business he’s interviewing for. His thoughtfulness made him a respectable pal in the eyes of Fosdick. Dick has no problem with trying to help the people in his life go to a higher level.
Dick was committed to ensuring that even though it was his duty to take care of himself it was important to take care of others along the way as well. Alger uses these three scenes to show that Dick is honest, loyal, respectful, compassionate, fair, optimistic, and has perseverance. If Dick’s inner character was the opposite of what it is now, do you think his success story would still turn out like it did? How would you describe the type of character Dick was?
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