Tom Wilkins is a bootblack, who like Fosdick and Ragged Dick, is honest and hardworking. Unlike Fosdick, and like Dick, Wilkins makes good money for himself. However, Wilkins is not homeless, as he lives with his mother and siblings. Lately, however, Wilkins’ mother has been so ill that she can’t work, and he’s been forced to use all of his earnings to buy food for his family. Without their mother’s income, the family finds it impossible to pay their rent. They are preparing to be evicted when Dick steps in with the requisite rent money, which he pulls from his savings account. An exceptionally honest and thoughtful boy, Wilkins at first refuses this charity, admitting to Dick that he’ll never be able to pay him back and worrying that Dick himself will need the money. Ultimately, however, he takes the gift. In this way, Dick is able to pay forward the charity that Mr. Whitney had given him.
Tom Wilkins Character Timeline in Ragged Dick: Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks
The timeline below shows where the character Tom Wilkins 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 20: Nine Months Later
Chapter 21: Dick Loses His Bank-book
Chapter 23: Travis Is Arrested