Personality and Character – Ragged Dick (Vanessa Gonzalez)

11 Apr

Horatio Alger narrates the story of a young boy who finds himself stuck in poverty  as a homeless bootblack on the streets of New York. Ragged Dick seeks a higher status, constantly reminding himself that “There ain’t no reason why I [Dick] shouldn’t live ‘spectable [respectable]”, finally reaching a clerk’s position in a counting house. His new job and clothes provided by Mr. Rockwell, allows Dick to transfer, in terms of social status and profession, from poverty to the middle class. Dick displays his character through this transition by working hard, saving what he earns, putting together pieces of an education, and being extremely honest.

Simultaneously, changes in dress and manner, particularly proper speech, also play a large role on the evolution of Dick’s personality. While this “ignorant bootblack” would not have had an opportunity to work at the counting-house without the offer of an interview from Mr. Rockwell, his successful performance in that meeting is due to his own regimen of skills building and attitude transformation: a personality change. Ragged Dick displays a change of his social identity when his potential new boss asks him his name and Dick replies “Richard Hunter, Esq.”

Dick accomplishes a move from his original social class to the next one higher by manipulating his environment, and adopting a series of qualities based on education, appearance, and protocols. Nevertheless, Dick’s genuine identity, kindness, compassion, honesty, ambition, and tenacity are a strong foundation of his success.


One Response to “Personality and Character – Ragged Dick (Vanessa Gonzalez)”

  1. makiaharper April 14, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    Well stated, great analysis on the character and personality of Dick. I think that differences between and role of personality and character are very apparent in this work. As we stated throughout the semester the persona that we project has an influence on the way that people interact with one another.

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