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

by

Horatio Alger

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Ragged Dick can help.

Ragged Dick: Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks: Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After a few words, Maguire throws a punch at Dick, who easily avoids it and returns with one of his own for Maguire. Maguire tries to tackle Dick, but Dick merely trips him instead. When the hooligan tries to call to Limpy Jim for assistance, the other boy refuses to join in. Before long, a police officer arrives, and Maguire and Jim run off. 
Dick’s prowess in the fight is somewhat unexpected, especially given his admission that he’s never fought. Mostly, Alger chalks Dick’s success up to his cool-headedness. He makes mature decisions against Maguire’s heated, childish ones.
Themes
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
Dick explains to the police officer that Maguire didn’t like Dick because he “went to a different tailor than him.” The officer laughs and remarks that Dick’s wardrobe is an odd one for his profession. Dick replies that he hopes to not always be a shoeshine boy.
In other clothes, Dick might have been in a spat of trouble with the police. However, in his new suit, the officer comes to the scene to protect Dick, presumably a young gentleman, from Maguire.
Themes
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
The officer advises Dick that shoe-shining is honest work, and that he should keep to it until something better comes along. He then points to a bookstore across the street and tells Dick that its owner began his life as a lowly newspaper boy. Dick wonders to himself if he will grow up to be a respectable man like the bookstore owner.
New York City, it seems, is replete with rags-to-riches stories meant to inspire Dick. However, as seen in characters like Johnny Nolan and Maguire, it is also chock-full of failures.
Themes
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
Leaving the officer, Dick makes his way to a bank and opens a savings account. Because he’s had such a busy morning, he’s able to add a dollar to his remaining funds from Mr. Whitney and so starts the account with five dollars. The teller assumes, based on Dick’s suit, that he can write; Dick must then write out his name to open the account, which proves difficult given his illiteracy. Taking his bank-book, Dick ponders this moment heavily in his mind. He’s proud of the account, but he’s also anxious to start his education.
The type of account Dick opens requires that the owner of the account always have his passbook with him when visiting the bank. This will become important later on, when the passbook goes missing. This moment also spurs Dick to again consider the importance of education.
Themes
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Get the entire Ragged Dick LitChart as a printable PDF.
Ragged Dick: Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks PDF