Ragged Dick, By Hoatio Alger Essay

1838 words - 7 pages

Wouldn’t it be nice to have it all? Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a society where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed in life? No one looks at race or anything of that nature just solely on merit and no matter where you come from or what you go through you have the same opportunity as the next person. Merit is the quality of being particularly good or worth especially so as to deserve praise or reward.

Well, this is the message that Horatio Alger gives to his readers that some people feel as though it’s a myth as oppose to others thinking it’s great guidelines or a great blueprint to success. In a selection of the money and success chapter in “Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing”, a professor at Yale Law School, Harlon L. Dalton critiques the story of Horatio Alger “Ragged Dick” calling it a myth. Dalton says that you can’t just overlook the fact that people still are based upon race and class.

The Horatio Alger myth conveys three basic messages. The first one says that each of us is judged solely on her or his own merits. The second one stated that we each have a fair opportunity to develop those merits. Last but not least, the third one implied merit would out. Each of them is, to be charitable, problematic.

The first message is a variant on the rugged individualism ethos. . In this form, it suggests that success in life has nothing to do with pedigree, race, class background, gender, national origin, sexual orientation-in short, with anything beyond our individual control (Dalton).

The second message conveyed by Horatio Alger is that we all have a shot reaching our true potential. To be fair, neither Alger nor the myth he underwrote suggests that we start out equal. Nor does the myth necessarily require that we be given an equal opportunity to succeed (Dalton).

The third message assumes not only a commitment to merit-based decision-making but also the existence standards for measuring merit that do not unfairly favor one individual over another (Dalton).

In my mind I’ve come to a conclusion that the “Ragged Dick” piece is indeed a myth because in the society I live in today it’s no way a person born into poverty has the same opportunities as a person born into riches. A person born into poverty would have to struggle and work hard to receive anything in need to survive or succeed. A person born into wealth would most likely be giving or work effortlessly to receive anything they would need to survive or succeed. If you were born into poverty or face poverty you would know rich people can be motivation because whatever they have you want so you go through these steps and goals in achieving them.

Horatio’s myth can be broken down in many different ways in support of his story being a myth one being class in context of either being rich or poor. Poor people do not have the same opportunity as rich people. Poor people would have to look at life in a motivational way to succeed....

Find Another Essay On Ragged Dick, by Hoatio Alger

Racial Class, Social Class, and Money

646 words - 3 pages In his article “Horatio Alger”, Harlon L. Dalton believes that Horatio Alger’s views on success are false. Alger indicates in his article “From Ragged Dick” that success can be achieved through hard work and ambition alone. Additionally, in “Ragged Dick”, Alger rescues the son of a white man, who then offers him a job paying three times the amount he would normally make. However, Dalton claims in “Horatio Alger” that race and other factors

Imagery in Ragged Dick Essay

1348 words - 5 pages Imagery in Ragged Dick Imagery plays a big part in the success of a novel. Different writers have different styles. The good thing about imagery is it makes room for the reader to put things together. The reader is allowed to interpret the story the way that they like. "Ragged Dick", Horatio Alger, Jr. did a great thing with imagery. While reading the novel readers had a change to envision many things that were mentioned in each

Separation of the Working and Middle Class Child

1695 words - 7 pages the life of a mill worker. Unlike families who supported themselves with children working at a mill or factory, Ragged Dick was an orphan who supported himself by working on the streets as a bootblack. In the beginning, Horatio Alger depicted Dick as a young boy born into poverty with no education who continued living in poverty because of his own misled ways. Alger then utilizes the attitude that anyone can overcome their situation by a little

A Lower Class Success Story

1180 words - 5 pages and determination. A story titled “Ragged Dick,” and written by author Horatio Alger (1832-1899) entails the “rags-to-riches” storyof a young man named Dick who happily works a lower class job earning minimum wage to cover his daily expenses. While on a ferry for a business meeting, Dick is faced with a seemingly risky predicament in which he chooses to rescue a little boy from drowning. As a result, the boy’s father

How does Class Influence Identity?

1282 words - 5 pages . Three such works consist of Horatio Alger's "Ragged Dick", "The Lesson" by Toni Cade Bambara and Gregory Mantsios' "Class in America: Myths and Realities". Each of these writer's at one point or another had to make the decision of "How does class influence identity" and each of them confronted this topic in different ways.Horatio Alger's "Ragged Dick" is a book based upon the fact that success is based upon an individual's merit. Alger tackles the

Ragged Dick: Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks

1883 words - 8 pages of abundant crop harvest, the Homestead Act which offered free plots of land as long as you could prove you were cultivating the land, and in this case work opportunity in the mines of California. What I also believe portrayed the era throughout the book was the emphasis on a suit making an individual professional. As we have seen in Ragged Dick, Dick going from his Washington coat and Napoleon pants to the new suit which was provided by Franks

The Path To Success

1145 words - 5 pages . There was an offer put out by Mr. Rockwell that whoever saved his son received $10,000 but Dick did not hear this offer when he jumped in. After he saved the boy, he declined the offer but still was rewarded by Mr. Rockwell with new clothes, a new job, and a new life (Alger 246). Ragged Dick had no idea that saving this boy would be a new start for him. It was simply life itself returning the favor for saving the young boy. There is a saying

The American Dream: A False Sense of Hope

3553 words - 14 pages right time and ends up saving a boy’s life. The consequences for doing so are positive and Dick is rewarded by the father of the boy. From his actions, Dick eventually begins to live the life of luxury that he always imagined. Alger, a 19th-century author, has published many works, Ragged Dick being his most famous. This excerpt of Alger’s Ragged Dick applies to my argument as an example for supporting the claim that the American Dream has been

Comparing Success in Horatio Alger's Ragged Dick and the Life of Colin Powell

1051 words - 4 pages Success in Horatio Alger's Ragged Dick and the Life of Colin Powell What does success mean to you? I think the idea of success is affected by the social system. In America and Hong Kong, which are capitalistic societies affected by the American Dream, success means money and fame. In other societies, success might have different meanings. Some people said money and fame is the true meaning of success, but I think that the true meaning of

The Myth of Money and Success and That of Gender

2289 words - 10 pages . Those children who were born into poor families are virtually stuck in the lower rungs of the economic and social ladder, in spite of their good personality, hard work and great yearning they feel to succeed. In this case, a timely opportunity and the ability to seize the opportunity become extremely important. In the article “From Ragged Dick”, Dick is a poor shoeshine boy who has to live a life by himself. He yearns for an education and a good

Prejudice Destroyed the American Dream

1259 words - 5 pages and economic system for it to exist. Prejudices like race, gender, social class, and economic inequality prevent every American from having the same chance at succeeding, a key point to the myth of the American Dream. Works Cited Alger, Horatio. “From Ragged Dick.”Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing.8th Edition. Ed. Gary Columbo, Robert Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin's, 2010. 258

Similar Essays

The American Dream In Ragged Dick, By Horatio Alger

1248 words - 5 pages 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

Ragged Dick Alger, Horatio. Ragged Dick, And Mark, The Match Boy.. New York: Collier Books, 1962. Print

806 words - 3 pages potential to achieve goals is something you really need to get far in life. Having these things, people of great moral will come to you, not the other way around.Having these three aspects in life will get a person far. These are the things that will make you succeed and become a very important person one day. Horatio Alger's, "Ragged Dick" Let the main character Dick, achieve great standards by saving a boy out of the water. Not every day a person is

On Comparison And Contrast Of "Ragged Dick," And "Bad Little Boy"

893 words - 4 pages into receiving a believable moral at the end. Anecdotes are short brief sub stories that summarize a particular instance.In "Ragged Dick" there is an idea that good things happen to kind hearted people is ingrained as a moral throughout the story. Alger takes an anecdote to display this notion. While on the search for better-paying and more respectable jobs, Dick takes a trip on the ferry to Brooklyn. En route, a young boy falls into the river

Ragged Dick Essay

672 words - 3 pages Ragged DickRagged Dick is a novel written in the 1800's by Horatio Alger. It is a story about a young boy named Richard Hunter, also known as Ragged Dick, as he progresses though his childhood. Ragged Dick is a typical Rags to Riches story where Dick struggles through the hardships of city life, trying to achieve the "American Dream".As a child, Dick is nothing more than a poor city boy who is trying to earn money on the streets of New York City