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Ragged Dick Descriptive Essay

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Updated: Jun 3rd, 2019

In the Bildungsroman Ragged Dick, Horatio Alger provides readers with an interesting topic for debate, through making an illusion on how American wealthy people nurture young men from boyhood to a wealthy adult life. Modern scholars argue that the story is a puerile fantasy based on class assimilation. As the young Dick strives in his street life, he is swallowed into the life of common ragamuffins in New York.

He gets into smoking, drinking and most of the times sleeps in the streets (Alger and Bode 24). However, the young man is sure that one day, he will turn from a ragamuffin into a respectable and wealthy adult. Looking at the story of Dick, it is worth noting that nurturing, mentorship and coaching are three important elements that each young person needs to succeed in life and career.

Unlike other people living on the streets, Dick does not steal, and his life impresses older men (Alger and Bode 32). They realize a unique character of the young man, which makes them want to change his life. After getting an offer from one businessperson called Mr. Greyson to visit church, Dick also gets five dollars from Whitney for performing a church service.

With the money, Dick opens a bank account and rents a new apartment (Alger and Bode 41). By practicing frugality, the young man increases the amount in his bank account. On one occasion, Dick rescues a child from drowning; this accident surprisingly results in getting a job as a reward from the company owned by the child’s father.

Thus, Dick manages to escape from his past as a ragamuffin and starts a new life as a New York executive. From a clear look at the book, it is worth noting that although scholars argue whether the story is fictional or not, it is possible for men to nurture young men not only by giving them money, but also through education, sports and music.

Although there are few American executives who walk out of their rich life in search for young talents on the streets to nurture them and bring them into the wealthy class, it is worth noting that American rich people often involve in sponsoring youths at schools, churches and in the neighborhoods to develop their skills and get a chance to succeed in life.

The American culture of supporting students from early stages of their life is an indication of goodwill. In most cases, successful Americans often follow the example of one or few people who helped them change their life. As a matter of fact, it resembles the life of Ragged Dick.

The impact of the wealthy people on the lives of the young Americans is normally an avenue to success. However, this only happens when the young people are willing to change. It is rather a way to success than an illusion created by the author. As wealthy people involve in charitable projects in supporting youths, they often aim at coaching, mentoring and taking care of personal interests of the young people.

Ragged Dick is an example of the 18th century story of New York, where young men had few chances to succeed unless they got the careful tuition of their successful mentors. In addition, the study shows the need for mentors in the lives of the young people in all the fields.

It is worth noting that some traits of character portrayed in Dick, such as his ability to avoid hooliganism and be honest, impressed the men in New York to such an extent that they realized the potential in him.

This is an indication that people that had succeeded in their lives would have liked him to lead a good life, and thus some of them were willing to be his mentors. Due to the mentorship, Dick succeeded in his transition from a street boy to a wealthy man.

Works Cited

Alger, Horatio and Carl Bode. Introduction: Ragged Dick and Struggling Upward. New York: Penguin Books, 1985. Print.

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1. IvyPanda. "Ragged Dick." June 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ragged-dick/.


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IvyPanda. 2019. "Ragged Dick." June 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ragged-dick/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Ragged Dick'. 3 June.

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