University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Horatio Alger’s “Ragged Dick”
In the story of “Ragged Dick”, Horatio Alger tells an inspirational story portraying a hero, Dick, to be the embodiment of individual opportunity in American culture. Dick gains mobility up the socioeconomic ladder through his good virtue and dedication to higher education. Dick is an honest young “blackboot” with a secondrate shared apartment and low vernacular. However, Dick is generous and industrious, while keeping a frugal stance as to know the value of a dollar. while en route of finding new work, a young boy falls into the east river, and the father swears great rewards to the rescuer. Dick, an excellent swimmer, dives off a ferry and saves the boy, without hearing of any reward. The father, a wealthy industrialist himself, rewards Dick by giving him a wellpaying job as a clerk at his office. Dick, now realizing his potential, has allowed himself a new name with his new career, signifying his upward climb on the ladder claiming that he is finally, “cut off from the old vagabond life which he hoped never to resume” and sealing his grip upon the American Dream. Alger’s “rags to riches” story contains valuable tools that can be used to motivate a person’s social psychology, it’s myths can be unrealistic which can lead a person to believe a dream that could be impossible to obtain.
The example of valor, hard work, and initiative are concrete tools for one’s toolbox, whereas relying only on gallantry can only go so far in our socioeconomic world. First, you could just take a look into the professions throughout our economy. Art, literature, and education are thrown on the back burner as business degrees are the #1 funded, and sought after, sectors.