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

by

Horatio Alger

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Henry Fosdick is a homeless bootblack like his friend Ragged Dick, but he lacks his comrade’s amiable, outgoing nature. As a result, Fosdick struggles to find customers and has to endure more nights on the street, without any supper, than most bootblacks. Unlike most of his peers, though, Fosdick has a formidable education. His father kept him in school for much of his early life, and supplied him with books and encyclopedias to read, with the hope that his son would one day attend college. When Fosdick’s father died prematurely, however, the dream of college died with him, and Fosdick was forced into the street by at least age twelve. His fortunes change, however, when he happens upon Dick at a restaurant. Dick offers him a place to stay in exchange for his services as a tutor. Fosdick proves himself a dutiful young man, taking his educational work seriously and performing it well. He also displays a level of religious piety that surprises Dick, who is quite unused to such observances as bedside prayer and Sunday School attendance. Fosdick also learns from Dick, who teaches him the lessons of thrift and the value of importance that Dick learned from Frank Whitney. With these lessons, a new suit procured for him by Dick, and a shining recommendation from Mr. Greyson, Fosdick is able to achieve gainful employment as a store clerk and leave his bootblacking box behind. He displays the same level of diligence in his work as a clerk and soon earns a raise.

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

The Ragged Dick: Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks quotes below are all either spoken by Henry Fosdick or refer to Henry Fosdick. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Signet edition of Ragged Dick: Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks published in 1990.
Chapter 8 Quotes

I ain’t got no mother. She died when I wasn’t but three years old. My father went to sea; but he went off before mother died, and nothin’ was ever heard of him. I expect he got wrecked, or died at sea.

Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

I’ll make a bargain with you. I can’t read much more’n a pig; and my writin’ looks like hens’ tracks. I don’t want to grow up knowin’ no more’n a four-year-old boy. If you’ll teach me readin’ and writin’ evenin’s, you shall sleep in my room every night.

Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19 Quotes

Mr. Henderson, this is a member of my Sunday school class, for whose good qualities and good abilities I can speak confidently.

Related Characters: Mr. Greyson (speaker), Henry Fosdick
Related Symbols: The Suit
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 24 Quotes

Dick read this letter with much satisfaction. It is always pleasant to be remembered, and Dick had so few friends that it was more to him than to boys who are better provided. Again, he felt a new sense of importance in having a letter addressed to him. It was the first letter he had ever received. If it had been sent to him a year before, he would not have been able to read it. But now, thanks to Fosdick's instructions, he could not only read writing, but he could write a very good hand himself.

Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 27 Quotes

“…you were ‘Ragged Dick.’ You must drop that name, and think of yourself now as—”

“Richard Hunter, Esq.” said our hero, smiling.

“A young gentleman on the way to fame and fortune,” added Fosdick.

Related Characters: Richard “Ragged Dick” Hunter (speaker), Henry Fosdick (speaker)
Related Symbols: Bootblacking Box
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:
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Ragged Dick: Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks PDF

Henry Fosdick Character Timeline in Ragged Dick: Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks

The timeline below shows where the character Henry Fosdick appears in Ragged Dick: Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 15: Dick Secures a Tutor
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... (full context)
The Power of Thrift 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.... (full context)
Chapter 16: The First Lesson
The Value of Education Theme Icon
Prior to their first lesson, that very night, Fosdick attempts to gauge Dick’s existing knowledge. He learns that Dick has had a grand total... (full context)
The Value of Education Theme Icon
Fosdick finds an appropriately simple newspaper article on which Dick can begin. Dick struggles at first,... (full context)
The Value of Education Theme Icon
...is surprised when his friend kneels at the bedside to pray before getting into bed. Fosdick explains the prayer to him, and offers to teach him how to pray, a proposal... (full context)
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
The Value of Education Theme Icon
The next morning, Dick tells his landlord that Fosdick will be living there as well. She agrees, while adding twenty-five cents to the weekly... (full context)
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Recognizing that Fosdick isn’t very good at soliciting customers, Dick begins to work in tandem with the young... (full context)
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
The Value of Education Theme Icon
...contemplates going to Mr. Greyson’s Sunday School. He’s almost talked himself out of it when Fosdick intervenes, offering to go along. Soothed by the idea of not having to go alone,... (full context)
Chapter 17: Dick’s First Appearance in Society
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
The Value of Education Theme Icon
At the church, Dick and Fosdick find Mr. Greyson, who sits the boys with him and his family for the service.... (full context)
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
The Value of Education Theme Icon
...seen.” Dick agrees to come every Sunday to continue his religious education. As he and Fosdick leave, however, they are accosted by Micky Maguire, who throws a stone that just misses... (full context)
Chapter 18: Mickey Maguire’s Second Defeat
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
Maguire runs away from Dick and Fosdick as soon as he’s spotted, but Dick gives chase. When Maguire trips and tumbles badly,... (full context)
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
The Value of Education Theme Icon
Dick has also made great progress with his studies, and Fosdick informs him that he’s ready to learn how to write. Dick says he feels that... (full context)
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
Fosdick replies that he would love to give up shoe-shining, but no one would hire him... (full context)
Chapter 19: Fosdick Changes His Business
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
The Value of Education Theme Icon
On the hunt for a different line of work, Fosdick soon encounters difficulties. All of the jobs he applies for are swamped with applicants. In... (full context)
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
The Value of Education Theme Icon
Finally, however, Fosdick manages to get an interview for a clerk position at a hat store. He does... (full context)
Chapter 20: Nine Months Later
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
The Value of Education Theme Icon
Nine months pass, during which Fosdick receives a raise at his job and Dick continues to have remarkable success as a... (full context)
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
The Value of Education Theme Icon
...improved. Now he can read quite well in addition to writing and doing arithmetic. Indeed, Fosdick tells him, Dick now knows as much as his tutor. The narrator asserts that such... (full context)
Chapter 21: Dick Loses His Bank-book
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
...his bankbook missing from the locked drawer where he kept it. Discussing the matter with Fosdick, the two decide that the book was stolen. The thief, they deduce, must have been... (full context)
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
...of responsibility saving, the greatest satisfaction for Dick would still be to help Tom Wilkins.  Fosdick lends Dick the remaining money he needs to help Tom, and the two decide on... (full context)
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
...as a thinly veiled attempt to see if they’ve noticed the missing passbook. Dick and Fosdick act as though nothing is amiss, and Travis quickly departs. (full context)
Chapter 22: Tracking the Thief
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
...bit of Travis’ back story. He had indeed stolen the passbook after hearing Dick and Fosdick talk about their savings one night. A lazy young man, Travis has heard about a... (full context)
Chapter 24: Dick Receives a Letter
The Value of Education Theme Icon
One day, Fosdick points out a notice in the newspaper to Dick. The notice states that there is... (full context)
Chapter 25: Dick Writes His First Letter
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
The Value of Education Theme Icon
Back home, Dick shows Fosdick the letter. Fosdick suggests that Dick write one in return and even offers to proofread... (full context)
Chapter 26: An Exciting Adventure
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
...find another job and begins to apply, though he finds conditions much the same as Fosdick did. With his financial security, Dick allows himself occasional half-days off. On one such day,... (full context)
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
Mr. Rockwell has Dick and Fosdick brought to his house, along with his son. He supplies Dick with a new suit... (full context)
Chapter 27: Conclusion
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
The Value of Education Theme Icon
American Democracy vs. The British Monarchy Theme Icon
...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. (full context)