Ragged Dick- Horatio Alger

In discussing the book Ragged Dick by Horatio Alger with peers and two professors, the themes of opportunity and luck were extremely prevalent. An idealistic book that captures the journey of a boy “Ragged Dick” and his rise from a poor boy who shines shoes to scrape by, to a boy with money and education to his name, shows what the author thinks is the American Dream. A portion of the class (FSEM Inequality and the American Dream) felt that Ragged Dick’s rise to “wealth” (in a relative sense) from his impoverished condition was a result of luck, or at least majority luck. The other section disagreed saying that his condition improved because of his determination, morality, and opportunities he seized and worked for. In my opinion, Dick’s ascent was due majority to luck; I am not saying at all that he did not work hard with what he was given, however I see that most of his opportunities were handed to him. He was quite literally handed a five dollar bill that enabled him to start a bank account and find a room to stay in semi-permanently. Without this chance or opportunity handed to him, it is likely he would’ve ended that day with just enough money to get some food for dinner, keeping him in his cycle of poverty. While he did in fact gain an education of sorts at the Sunday School because of his good morals (returning the money he owed a customer), that is also luck that he stumbled upon a customer that was open to helping the boot blacks and was so willing to teach someone who knew close to nothing. This could’ve easily happened to any other boot black boy, or could’ve not happened at all; it is pure luck that he was chosen by this man, not an opportunity that was available to all or an opportunity he created for himself. An overall synopsis of my opinion would be that, although Ragged Dick capitalized on all of the opportunities that came his way, and worked hard with what he was given, most of his rise from “rags to riches” can and should be attributed to luck.

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