The Role of Minor Characters in Ragged Dick
It is impossible for the minor characters in Ragged Dick to have a fair chance at being recognized as decent members of society because of the emphasis Horatio Alger Jr. places on Dick Hunter. The better qualities of Dick are constantly being reminded to the reader, giving them little room to disagree with Alger’s heroic portrayal of him. Horatio Alger Jr.’s preference to homosexuality also reflects his choice in excluding any useful female characters in his novel. Minor characters lack understanding from readers because information surrounding them is absent, causing them to be judged on 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. Johnny Nolan’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 something more desiring than a local boot-black.
Although Johnny and Dick are technically on the same social...
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