Minor Characters in Ragged Dick
Minor characters lack understanding from readers because information surrounding them is absent, causing them to be judged n face value alone.
Alger writes Ragged Dick to try and show how respectability can come forth through honesty, option luck, and respect for property. Alger produces characters to help the reader identify Dick as being a hero because of his pursuit for respectability. Even in the boot-blacking business, Dick is respected by the readers because of the way Alger projects Dick as being an energetic and hard working individual.Alger uses boot-blacks in comparison to Dick in order to have him appear better than his presumed equals. Dick is referred to as a “hero” early on in the novel, even though there is nothing but energy distinguishing him from one of his fellow boot-blacks, Johnny Nolan (Alger 9). Johnny is just like Dick besides him lacking energy in blacking boots. This one distinction creates a novel which supports Dick into a journey of becoming respectable while leaving Johnny to face the consequences of his laziness.
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Johnny Nylon’s character is not regarded as a thief in Ragged Dick but continues to be represented as a less respectable boy than Dick Hunter. If Johnny Nolan was given options such as Dick was, there is no clear reason why Johnny would not make something of himself and work towards meeting more desiring than a local boot-black. Although Johnny and Dick are technically on the same social level, both being boot-blacks with no savings, Dick claims himself to be on a better than Johnny because Johnny is lazy with his work (Alger 11).Alger writes in Ragged Dick that in the boot-blacking industry “energy and mind gusty are rewarded” (Alger ID). This places the responsibility of success in the hands of those who wish to become successful. This will produce a difference between what is given to one and what one can produce from their situation. While Dick comes a better person as he changes his behaviors, Johnny Nolan remains a character who is pitied, even by Dick, because of his laziness.
Johnson background is overlooked when readers choose to hastily decide that he is an insufficient worker.Johnny Nolan had troubles with his father being an alcoholic and did not like to live the solitary life which he was offered while working at a farm (Alger 12). Dick criticizes him for making the choice to leave the farm which gave him shelter, food and work (Alger 12). Johnny is looked down upon even though it may have turned out to be a similar case or Dick if he had been offered a job which required him to leave the city and become isolated from everything he is used to. The character of Johnny Nolan should not be criticized by the characters or readers because of the seemingly bad choices he made.He does not steal like other boot-blacks in the city often do, but he is still looked down upon for not putting enough effort into his work. Dick is used as a device to make Johnny envious of what is being given to another boy which was in the same situation as him.
This lesson of hard work which is trying to be taught to Johnny should perhaps be accused on another boot-black who leads a life of theft and dishonesty, rather than picking on Johnny Nolan who has his own family issues which may prevent him from having confidence which he could apply to his work.Not working hard enough is Johnny’s personal responsibility and if he does not wish to work harder and pursue a better life, then he should be left alone to face the consequences himself rather than being criticized by a fellow boot-black. Mucky Maguire is another pawn which Alger plays in Ragged Dick in order to make Dick stand out among the boot-blacks and set him above the rest. Mucky fits the typical description of a common boot-black in the city during the time in which Ragged Dick was written.He seems to exemplify expected behavior of a young boot-black by his rough exterior, involvement in fights, lack of money, and disregard for others including their property. Mucky Maguire is the enemy of the story, and it is clear that the “hero” must always rise above the bad characters in order to provide a lesson with the story being told. Dick is known to keep his cool and remain confident around Mucky, even when a fight is breaking out between the two Of them (Alger 94).
While Mucky is ended a cruel boy as it seems, Dick does bring on some of the taunting himself because of the cocky manner he upholds when speaking to Mucky. Even with Dick being smart-mouthed toward Mucky, there is not any sympathy towards Mucky in the novel because of his ruffian ways and rudeness towards Dick. Alger does not give Mucky credit for why he acts like this towards Dick nor does he establish a true reason why Mucky turned out to be such a tough street boy.His childish actions are likely caused by jealously over Dick and not because of sheer hatred (Alger 91). Mucky is not given chances like Dick ND whether or not Alger sets it up so that option luck is a rewarded behavior, Mucky should be given the chance to change his ways after he learns how to be respected enough in order to be given opportunities like Dick. Lager’s homosexual lifestyle affects the way he uses gender to distinguish the amount of importance particular characters have in Ragged Dick.The treatment of the female characters is not as low-scale as it is towards other boot-blacks, however, that is likely because there are not enough women characters in the novel to truly register how Alger feels towards their harassers.
The few women which are mentioned in Ragged Dick have notably minor character roles. When Frank and Dick are riding in a horse-car they comes across a middle-aged woman who accuses them of stealing her pocket-book (Alger 60). She appears very briefly, and is made out to look like a fool because of her false accusations towards Frank and Dick.As well, Mrs.. Grayson and her daughter, Ida, make a short appearance as characters in Ragged Dick. Ida does have a conversation with Dick, but she does not seem to have any true significance to the story and comes off as a little girl who is eying more than she should be (Alger 116).
Mrs.. Grayson has an even less prominent role in the novel. She only appears as a wife and mother, speaking only to Ida with a corrective manner towards her daughter, making her seem stuck up towards Dick and Frank by her lack of acknowledgment for the boys(Alger 1 19).The only other female characters who are given names in the novel are Bridget and Mrs.. Mooney.
Bridge’s sole purpose is to greet Dick and fetch Mrs.. Mooney for him, this being a part of the novel which is unnecessary (Alger 83). Mrs.. Mooney herself, has two parts in the novel, wowing Dick a shabby room for him to stay in and assisting Dick in figuring out who took his bank-book (Alger 83, 145). Mrs.
. Mooney is an untidy woman and does not take pride in her establishment.The lack of importance focused on female characters in Ragged Dick draws attention towards the knowledge of Horopito Alger Jar. Being homosexual. The novel is directly about boys, leaving out any attraction with the opposite sex except for a short conversation between Dick and Ida. Every female character comes off as either dirty and dumb or rich and rude in Ragged Dick and none of them are necessary characters to the novel. Being known as having homosexual relations with young boys, Alger reflects his sexual preference in his choice of characters in Ragged Dick.
The overall reduction of minor characters is caused by the inflation of Dick Hunters character into a hero figure. Alger creates Dick as an all-American hero which most readers can relate to because it is a climb from the bottom to the top through being an honest, hard working person. Doing this causes the other characters featured in Ragged Dick to be minimized. Alger creates Dick so that he can be easily liked by the readers because of his strong work thick and his sense of moral responsibility over anybody else in the novel.