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 27 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At the counting house, Mr. Rockwell introduces himself to Dick properly and asks the boy some questions. Dick tells him about his past, his change in fortune, and about his current trouble finding a job. Mr. Rockwell asks Dick to write his name down as proof that he can read and write. Dick does this in a well-formed, bold hand, using the name Richard Hunter rather than Dick.
This change in names represents another move towards adulthood and the complete shedding of Dick’s former raggedness.
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Rockwell offers Dick a position at his counting house starting at ten dollars a week, an amount which leaves Dick dumbfounded. He protests that it’s more money than he can earn, but Mr. Rockwell has faith that Dick will earn it and, what’s more, will advance quickly in his company. Dick, who remembers that he was expecting to earn three dollars a week from whatever employment he obtained, accepts without question. They agree that he will start the following Monday.
Dick’s good deeds have paid off throughout the story, and this moment is no different. Alger has gone to such lengths to establish Dick’s morality that such a stroke of good fortune is suggested to be more than luck, and instead a just and perhaps inevitable reward for Dick’s behavior.
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On leaving, Dick realizes that he will be able to save at least half of his weekly salary, while still entertaining a better life than he previously had. He decides on the spot to retire from bootblacking, though he plans to always keep his bootblacking supplies as a reminder of how far he’s come. In the end, he and Fosdick agree that it’s time to find a better place together.
Unlike many popular conceptions of Alger’s writing, Dick doesn’t end up among the world’s superrich. Rather, he rises comfortably into the middle class. Here, he can afford a place to stay, to take off work when sick, and regular meals—while still only dreaming of eating at Delmonico’s. That he keeps the supplies from his old life underscores the self-made nature of his good fortune.
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