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
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.
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.
“…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.