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


Horatio Alger

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Ragged Dick: Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks: Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Frank and Dick arrive at Central Park, which is still under construction. Frank remarks that it doesn’t look like much, and Dick agrees, though the shoeshine boy thinks that it’ll be grand one day. The boys decide to go back to Mr. Whitney, and the narrator mentions that “no incidents worth mentioning took place during their ride down town.”
Dick displays a good ability to look into the future with optimism and hope. Central Park is described as, essentially, a mound of rubble. Yet, the boy can see the plan behind the demolition and construction, just as he will come to envision his own plan.
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Dick offers to show Frank Wall Street before he ends their tour. There they meet a young man from the country who has unknowingly been the victim of a con artist. The young man tells Frank and Dick that he came to the city to deposit fifty dollars in the bank. Before he had a chance to, however, a stranger offered him a sixty dollar check for his cash. The young man saw an opportunity to make ten dollars off of the exchange and quickly took it. 
It’s easy to blame the victim in this situation, as this was so obviously a scam. To do so, however, would be to slightly discount the singular nature of New York City. While Dick is well-suited to living there, anyone coming in from the outside—even someone as educated as Frank—could just as easily fall victim.
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The check, however, turned out to be drawn on a made-up bank. Frank and Dick help the young man to find a police officer, who makes a report but says it’s unlikely that anything will come of it.
This is the second instance of a counterfeit bank instrument in the novel. It demonstrates the anxiety around paper currency at the time.
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Dick, however, thinks he knows the con artist based on the description the young man gave to the police. Shortly after, he and Frank stumble upon the man while taking a ferry to Brooklyn.
The world of conmen in the story is clearly as insular as the world of bootblacks. Dick seems to know them all.
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