The American Dream in Ragged Dick, by Horatio Alger Essay example

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According to Ty Kiisel, writer for Forbes magazine, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” (Kiisel). In the book Ragged Dick by Horatio Alger, Alger portrays a young New York boot black in the 1860s. Dick rises to become the embodiment of the American Dream through, as Kiisel notes, who he knows. Ragged Dick builds many relationships with upper-class men, fellow boot blacks, and even builds connections within himself, all while keeping his morality in check. The relationships that Ragged Dick forms are what make him achieve the American Dream. The first relationships with the upper-class that Ragged Dick builds are with Mr. Whitney and his nephew Frank. “I may be rash in trusting a boy of whom I know nothing, but I like your …show more content…
The last connection Dick forms is with an owner of a counting room in New York City named James Rockwell. As Dick rides on the ferry, a young boy falls into the water and Dick instinctively dives in and saves him. Little did he know, he just saved Rockwell’s son. In a wave of gratitude, Rockwell gives Dick a fresh set of clothes and a job in his counting room. Without the five dollars from Mr. Whitney, Dick would have never saved up enough money for an adventure across the bay where he met Mr. Rockwell. Dick’s next connection that gives rise to his American Dream is through his fellow boot blacks. “You’re lazy, that’s what’s the matter” says Dick to his friend Johnny Nolan (11). Johnny is almost the opposite of Ragged Dick; he is unmotivated, indifferent, and, as Dick puts it, just plain lazy. Dick looks at Johnny as a friend, but also as a reminder to aspire to do more in the future. Dick’s relationship with Johnny doesn’t get him money like the aforementioned upper-class men, alternatively it usually cost him money, but it gives Dick the mental motivation to not become like Johnny. The next boot black we meet in Ragged Dick is Micky Maguire, a mean, selfish, all-around bully. Micky is jealous of Dick’s new dress acquired from Mr. Whitney and decides to pick a fight. Dick evades the fight and endes it by saying “I don’t want to fight. It’s low business.” (95). Micky is far from a good mentor for Dick, but shows him how many of the boot blacks turn out. In

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