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 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dick navigates to the corner of Chatham and Broadway, where a series of ready-made clothing shops line the streets, hocking goods that they claim are being sold for less than cost. As the merchants try to sell their goods to the boys, Dick mocks them and sometimes explains their various scams to Frank, who is naïve to such things.
Surprisingly, ready-made clothing was a relatively new commodity even in Dick’s time. Many men of means would still have their clothing custom-made for them by a tailor (as, indeed, Frank probably had).
Themes
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
American Democracy vs. The British Monarchy Theme Icon
Eventually Dick and Frank find a proper hat store, and Frank buys a new hat for Dick, who simply leaves his old hat in the street. It’s quickly picked up by another shoeshine boy, whose hat is in even worse repair.
There’s a certain sadness in the realization that, as pathetic as Dick’s situation is, there are still those with much worse circumstances than his.
Themes
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
Related Quotes
The two make their way back from Chatham and Broadway, with Dick continuing to point out landmarks. Frank expresses his amazement that the city can hold so many shops, and Dick points out that they haven’t even seen the majority of them. Frank asks about Barnum’s Museum. Dick replies that it’s good, but not quite as exciting as the Old Bowery.
The Old Bowery is the theater Dick most enjoys frequenting. While going to the theater might not seem like a bad thing for a young man to do, the Old Bowery was in a part of town known for its criminality.
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
On their sight-seeing tour, Dick and Frank visit the New York Hospital and Taylor’s Saloon, where they eat ice cream together. In the saloon, Dick jokes about all the stocks that he owns in the Eerie Railroad Company. A nearby businessman overhears this and believes it, given Dick’s appearance. He gives Dick stock advice before leaving, and Dick remarks on his new life as a “man of fortune.”
His “shares in the Eerie Railroad” are an ongoing joke for Dick that he shares with almost all of his companions. Whenever some expense comes up—whether he can meet it or not—Dick says he’ll need to sell some of his shares. This is the only time he’s really believed, however.
Themes
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
American Democracy vs. The British Monarchy Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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