It is easy to assume that Ragged Dick rose to success because of hard work, but his honesty and generosity and his encounters with the right people truly changed his life for the better. Anyone can work hard and earn a decent living, but Dick had luck on his side. Many times, his honesty and generosity reaped great rewards. Other times, he was lucky to run into people who would help support his quest for a respectable living.
Unlike other bootblacks, Ragged Dick believed in honesty, and this helped him become more successful than his peers. Once, a clerk tried to keep a bill that Dick asked him to change by claiming it was counterfeit (Alger, 11-12).The bill belonged to Dick’s client, and Dick led him into the store to expose the clerk as a cheater (Alger, 13-14). In the end, the clerk was fired for his dishonesty, and the client rewarded Dick fifty extra cents for his trouble (p.14). Dick’s morality was even evident in his appearance. Mr. Whitney, a stranger to Dick, spontaneously decided to trust Dick as Frank’s tour guide because he believes that “‘ looks honest. He has an open face, and… be depended upon’ (Alger, 16). Because of this, Dick developed a valuable friendship with Frank and also received $5 for his services (Alger, 57). Finally, Dick displayed his honesty to Mr. Greyson by bringing back the 15 cents he owed the man, and as a reward, Mr. Greyson invited him to attend his Sunday School classes (Alger, 72).Order now
Furthermore, Dick’s acts of generosity and kindness led to self-fulfillment and career advancement. As soon as he realized Fosdick did not have a home, Dick offered to share his room in Mott Street (Alger, 73). In return, Fosdick taught him to read and write, and these valuable skills qualified Dick for a higher-paying job (Alger, 74). Rather than be competitive, Dick allowed Fosdick to set up his black box beside him, and this proved to be favorable because they both earned more than they usually would by themselves (Alger, 79). In another instance, Tom’s family was struggling to survive because his mother broke her arm and cannot work (Alger, 100). Dick generously offered Tom five dollars, and afterwards, “Dick felt a justifiable pride in his financial ability to afford so handsome a gift……in more ways than one, Dick was beginning to reap the advantage of his self-denial and judicious economy” (Alger, 116).
Finally, for Dick to be successful, he had to meet the right people at the right time. He was lucky to run into Mr. Whitney, who did not have time to show New York City to his nephew Frank (Alger, 15). Because Dick offered to be Frank’s tour guide, he received a new suit, and this new appearance allowed Dick to appear as a respectable gentleman (Alger, 17). Dick was also lucky to have regular clients who were fond of his wit and humor, and because of this, they would gift him clothes (Alger, 97). Finally, Dick was also fortunate to run into a situation where he needed to save a boy from drowning (Alger, 127). As a reward, the boy’s father gave him new clothes and offered him a job (Alger, 130).
In the end, Dick was able to become more successful than the other bootblacks, not only because he worked hard, but because he was honest, generous, and lucky to gain support from helpful people. Because he was moral and likable, Dick earned new clothes, an education, and a job. This shows that it took good values and help from outsiders for Ragged Dick to become Richard Hunter.