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

by

Horatio Alger

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Ragged Dick: Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks: Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next morning, while shining shoes, Dick remembers that he failed to return the change he’d promised to Mr. Greyson days earlier. He goes to the gentleman’s office immediately, hoping that the man won’t think too poorly of him for having taken so long.
Alger presents a more human element to doing the right thing, here. Dick means well; he merely forgets to carry out his duty. That kind of failure, it seems, is fine and probably unavoidable.
Themes
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
The Value of Education Theme Icon
Greyson is surprised both by Dick’s new appearance and the honesty he showed in returning the change. He asks Dick if he learned to be honest from the Bible, and Dick responds that he doesn’t have much experience with the book. Greyson offers to let Dick attend his Sunday School to help him get a proper religious education.
This is a moment of Dick’s innate sense of morality and desire to do the right thing leading directly to an opportunity to get the kind of education that will better himself in the eyes of society.
Themes
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
The Value of Education Theme Icon
Later that same evening, Dick goes out to dinner and there recognizes another shoeshine boy, Fosdick. The boy hasn’t had enough work to afford a proper supper, so Dick buys one for him. He also offers to let Fosdick spend the night in his room, since he doesn’t have proper lodging for the night.
Fosdick’s name is eerily similar to Dick’s name—it, in fact, contains it—which perhaps suggests a similarity or kinship between the boys. Dick proves kind and generous even in his newfound financial fortune.
Themes
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
The Value of Education Theme Icon
As they talk, Dick learns that Fosdick had intended to go to college, but his plans were thwarted when his father died. Despite this, Fosdick is still well-educated. Dick offers to let Fosdick live with him, if the other boy will teach him to read and write. Fosdick agrees, and Dick obtains a newspaper to serve as his first reading primer.
This is another example of Dick being extremely generous with his money. In this moment, the generosity seems to be a positive attribute of Dick’s as it—like his dedication to returning Mr. Greyson’s change—leads to another step on the path to bettering himself. Alger thus continues to make a strong connection between morality and good fortune.
Themes
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
The Value of Education Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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