[English Composition 110]
[The New York street children and the realization of the American Dream] "New York City has a global reputation as a dynamic, wealthy, and prosperous magnet for immigrants for several centuries. Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick exhibits a 19th century metropolis where street children—uncared for by the general public and without a safety net—struggled mightily to earn enough money for food and temporary lodging with the help of the right attributes of the possibility to achieve a modicum of success (Gerling)." It is evident that New York is an ideal center of freedom, rapid urban expansion, natural harbor and multi-cultural society. Ragged Dick further solidifies the above argument by showing that New York is a suitable playground to the visionary and ambitious irrespective of socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. In Ragged Dick, New York is as an origin of virtuous and dedicated role models who in turn provide the motivation to inculcate others in their pathways. Ragged Dick also illustrates the freedom to work, the freedom to acquire property, the freedom to study, and freedoms of all sorts were explicitly respected in New York back in the 1800’s. Ragged Dick also proves the prevalence of the principle of egalitarianism in New York, where one’s background has no effect on his or her fortune. The history of Ragged dick serves as a mirror image to the famous writer’s Caleb Carr’s belief that, “What happens in New York happens to the rest of the country....If the American society is going to succeed, it is going to find the way to do what New York has always done which is to take incredibly diverse human elements, put them together and find a way for them to tolerate each other.... (Burns)" Despite the unsuccessful attempts to demystify the truly democratic nature of New York since the regime of Peter Stuyvesant who believed that, “It would create a great confusion if the obstinate and immovable Jews come to settle in New York.” New York remains as “a preeminent site of 'democracy and pleasure'" (Sorkin 1992: xv). The democracy loving citizens of New York once screamed in unison that, "The consensus of man are to be free and unshackled as long as they continue to be moderate, peaceable, inoffensive and not hostile to government. Such has been the maxim of tolerance that New York is governed. And the result has been the oppressed and persecuted from every country are found among us in asylum from distress (Burns)." This general agreement of the citizens assisted the Jewish to mingle with the hospitable society of New York and gave Ragged Dick absolute freedom accompanying his endeavor, shortcoming and destiny. For example, Dick, before the ambition to become a respectable person casts its shadow upon him, was so uncaring and extravagant that he used to often squander all the money he had acquired through drinking in the Old Bowery and smoking at night. This event shows that New York is a state of absolute liberty and that it is up to the individual to act the right way. Freedom is the underlying element for Dick's success as it is for the Declaration of Independence that says, “All men are created equal and are endowed by the creator with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Just as Dick had the freedom to squander his money, Dick had the freedom to work as a bootblack and to study with a private tutor in his spare time. The prevalence of rule of the land is also manifested when Travis (the thief) was brought before the court to bring back the money that Dick once acquired with the help of the freedom to generate income. In short, the absolute freedom in New York laid the foundation for Dick's achievement in life. New York is the best place to bring about psychological, monetary and social advancement. As the famous actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger claims, "Number one in America pretty much takes care of the rest of the...
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