Dalton Summary

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In "Horatio Alger" Harlan L. Dalton challenges three profound messages that are found in the Alger myth stating that, "hard work, persistence, initiative, and daring invariable [manage] to transcend [people's] station in life"(Dalton 150). Dalton initially emphasizes how we are being judged on different scales and how there is a race based advantage for success in life. He contends that Blacks know what it feels like to be scrutinized based on race and how many times they can only be acknowledged as "the best Black" as opposed to the best student. He suggests that White people question what has come from their favored social status at the same time feeling partly responsible for America's race problem. Furthermore, Dalton alleges that while hard work and merit are crucially important they do not ensure success. Additionally, he suggests that we don't all have the same chance at reaching our full potential due to the lack of effort to create our own opportunities. Dalton acknowledges the fact that we are all trying to achieve success or our own true paradise, but he realizes that true accomplishment isn't as practical as portrayed in the Alger myth. Dalton advocates that all American's strive to achieve life success but at the same time he sees our struggle to find paradise the origin of our eventual demise. This based on the idea that we can only climb so high. All in all, Harlan L. Dalton implies that we no longer live in a world with infinite possibilities, but of one filled with less potential and harder choices.
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