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

by

Horatio Alger

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Bootblacking Box Symbol Analysis

Bootblacking Box Symbol Icon

The bootblacking box symbolizes Dick’s transience and homelessness. Dick’s profession is a highly portable one, as everything he needs to shine shoes, from the polish to the rags to the brush, fits neatly into his bootblacking box. This box makes Dick’s life easier—indeed it even makes his life possible—but it also marks him as a transitory figure. He isn’t a permanent fixture somewhere with a professional office, or a cubicle, that is marked as his spot, and he lacks the same permanence in his private life. Thus it’s not surprising that as Dick becomes more established in his life, the box starts to mean less to him, until, at last, he’s able to abandon the box altogether, keeping it only as a memento of that time in his life.

Bootblacking Box 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 all refer to the symbol of Bootblacking Box. 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 2 Quotes

Now, in the boot-blacking business, as well as in higher avocations, the same rule prevails, that energy and industry are rewarded, and indolence suffers. Dick was energetic and on the alert for business, but Johnny was the reverse. The consequence was that Dick earned probably three times as much as the other.

Related Symbols: Bootblacking Box, Restaurants
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

Dick succeeded in getting quite a neat-looking cap, which corresponded much better with his appearance than the one he had on. The last, not being considered worth keeping, Dick dropped on the sidewalk, from which, on looking back, he saw it picked up by a brother boot-black who appeared to consider it better than his own.

Related Symbols: The Suit, Bootblacking Box
Page Number: 29
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:
Get the entire Ragged Dick LitChart as a printable PDF.
Ragged Dick: Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks PDF

Bootblacking Box Symbol Timeline in Ragged Dick: Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks

The timeline below shows where the symbol Bootblacking Box 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 11: Dick as Detective
The Power of Thrift Theme Icon
Fortune Favors the Industrious Theme Icon
Clothes Make the Man Theme Icon
The Value of Education Theme Icon
...Frank accompanies him upstairs so that the boy can get his old clothes and his shoe-shining equipment . On the way, Frank admonishes Dick to stop spending his money on gambling. Dick... (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
...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... (full context)