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 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Once at the hotel, Dick is presented with a suit by Mr. Whitney. Though it was Frank’s previously, it’s still in quite good shape, and will make Dick appear a more suitable companion for Frank. They also instruct the boy to wash up, before he puts on his new clothes.
Boys’ literature as a genre in Alger’s time was meant to be wholesome and moralizing. As such, there’s no sense of oddness or danger associated with this admittedly unusual situation.
Themes
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
Frank is suitably impressed by Dick’s change in appearance, and the two agree that all that’s needed to complete the ensemble is a new hat. As they leave the hotel to find one, Dick stumbles upon Johnny. At first, Johnny doesn’t recognize Dick in his suit, but after a moment is amazed to see his friend—a fact which pleases Dick to no end.
It should be noted that Dick was already wearing a suit of a kind—just a dirty, falling-apart one that fit poorly. Putting a new suit on him might make him look better, but for it to make him unrecognizable is clearly symbolic; for Dick, the suit represents the kind of man he would like to be.
Themes
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Dick and Frank make their way into the city, Dick pointing out landmarks along the way. Throughout their trip, Dick pretends to be a rich man like Frank, and jokes about his troubles with paying taxes and his good friend, the mayor. 
Dick’s humor is part of who he is, certainly, but it’s also just good business at the moment. A lively, funny tour guide is naturally better than a boring, staid one.
Themes
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
American Democracy vs. The British Monarchy Theme Icon