Personality and Character of “Ragged Dick” (Colleen Egan)

11 Apr

In “Ragged Dick” character and personality are used to talk about the self improvement of a boy bootblack living in New York. Personality is ones traits when around others while your character is who you really are and the morals that you follow. Dick’s character was introduced to us in the first chapter “He was above doing anything mean or dishonorable. He would not steal or cheat, or impose upon younger boys, but was frank and straight forward, manly, and self-reliant. His nature was a noble one and had saved him from all mean faults.” He is honest and good. He hates those that bully others and does not physically fight unless he has to such as when Mickey Maguire was causing him trouble, seeing Dick as someone showing off because of his new suit along with being one of the trouble makers. Dick’s personality, how he is preserved by other people, is that of a trouble maker living on the streets. Those in the city see him how they see most of the other boot blacks in New York. Boot blacks are seen as trouble makers, cheaters and violent street kids and this causes some situations to arise. An example would be when Dick’s friend and fellow bootblack Henry was trying to get a job and during the job interview a boy from a higher background heckles Dick and Henry for being bootblacks in an attempt to make them look bad and him look better. The image of how boot blacks are  is not true with Dick’s character. He is willing to help people such as when he offered a fellow bootblack Henry to live with him in his room and helped him get a job and bank account. He had the trait in his character to be motivated and work hard in order to learn to read, write and attend a Sunday school. It was his willingness that brought him to Mr. Whitney and Frank when he offered to show Frank around the city and gave him his first bit of good advice in being careful with his money. Before he would spend it on the theater and treat his friends to food and not have money the next day for breakfast. He started saving his money, wearing the suit he was given by Mr. Whitney and got himself a room and an account at the bank and later got a job from saving the life of a wealthy man’s son. His personality changed for those around him such as with when he saw Dick in the suit he was given and was seen as a show up and had rocks thrown at his head.

This is how manipulation comes into play with character and personality. Manipulation is often seen as a shallow and often dishonest behavior. But Dick manipulates his circumstances through his good character to improve his poor situation into a more promising future. He dresses nicer to appear more respectful to those around him and he starts to change his way of speaking around the end of the book by not using the slang he often uses. The way people preserve his character is that of a well dress, honest, good looking young man worthy of respect and being rewarded. It is that young man who Dick really is and now is preserved as that by those around him. It was manipulation in a more productive way rather than productive While personality is how others see you and character is who you really are. Manipulation can be used to change these to either reflect ones true character or reflect a false one and mislead others into who you really are. An example would be if Dick was really a trouble maker and wore the suit to appear respectful but acted like some of the upper-class people in the book such as the woman in the carriages who tried to use her higher status compared to Dick’s to try and frame him for theft. Or Dick and Henry’s neighbor who stole Dick’s bank book and pretended to act like a good neighbor in personality despite everyone being aware of his character as a trouble causing alcoholic who never show any interest in doing so until Dick’s bank book disappeared.


One Response to “Personality and Character of “Ragged Dick” (Colleen Egan)”

  1. serracanca April 11, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    Everyone manipulates in some ways, big or small, and it is not always negative. It’s just human nature to consider how others perceive us and what it would be most beneficial to be perceived as.

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