During 1850's, common stories about "poor city youths, newsboys and bootblacks" who became rich and famous which were popular. "Ragged Dick" features such a young boy as its hero. Alger opened up Dick's identity, inspirations, dreams, plans and hopes. Dick was a sarcastic youngster, generous towards friends, a gambler and smoker. At the same time, he never steals, neither cheats nor hurt younger boys and this makes him a "noble" young gentleman. His "pants were torn in several places, and had apparently belonged in the ...
During 1850's, common stories about "poor city youths, newsboys and bootblacks" who became rich and famous which were popular. "Ragged Dick" features such a young boy as its hero. Alger opened up Dick's identity, inspirations, dreams, plans and hopes. Dick was a sarcastic youngster, generous towards friends, a gambler and smoker. At the same time, he never steals, neither cheats nor hurt younger boys and this makes him a "noble" young gentleman. His "pants were torn in several places, and had apparently belonged in the first instance to a boy two sizes larger than himself. He wore a vest, all the buttons of which were gone except two, out of which peeped a shirt which looked as if it had been worn a month. To complete his costume he wore a coat too long for him, dating back, if one might judge from its general appearance, to a remote tranquility." Throughout the book Alger draws us to see the transfer of a boy who once was Ragged Dick into a respectable young gentleman Richard Hunter. "When Dick was dressed in his new attire, with his face and hands clean, and his hair brushed, it was difficult to image that he was the same boy" Dick changes from being uneducated, dirty and wearing ragged clothes that are too big for him into a "quite handsome...young gentleman, except that his hands were red and grimy." Alger could have made Dick a good looking, rich and educated young gentleman but he chose completely the opposite. This way of writing only made it more realistic since not everyone becomes rich; it takes hard work to get there. Throughout the book, Alger draws images of the New York City streets, transportation and structures, tells about the games, cheats, crooks and tricks happening on the streets, and draws attention to the juvenile boys' desires for simple things such as: "a steady job, a decent place to sleep, a suit of clothing, respect from others" as well as planning for future. There are a lot of details used to make our minds actually see the real pictures of the situations. Some of the details include about the greatest pleasure that Dick is experiencing with his saving's account that grows slowly every week and the first experience of washing his face. One of the reasons 'Ragged Dick' was a success was that the story was easy to read as well as inspiring. Alger leaves his readers with the feeling that, like Dick, they can become smart and rich too. In approximately one year, the hero of Alger's story turns from an uneducated, dirty, sarcastic, young boy into a noble young gentleman. Like us, Dick wasn't successful in everything he did. But his life is quiet realistic and his progress in the face of struggles can inspire us all.
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