Ragged Dick By Horatio Alger Analysis

Topics: United States, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby, Arnold Rothstein, Ginevra King, This Side of Paradise / Pages: 5 (1221 words) / Published: Jul 28th, 2016
The Media Has Ruined Success Now, more than ever, the media permeates all aspects of our lives. The impact and influence that the media has over us rivals the influence of our family and friends. Music, television, radio, books, and the internet surround us constantly and their effect is far greater now than in the past because of the ubiquity of computers and smartphones. The media also influences our culture. A large part of our cultural identity is the American Dream and part of the American Dream is the myth of the success. In America, success is seen as the self made man (or woman) rising above even the most dire of circumstances to get an excellent job, a new car, and a house in the suburbs. But the current trends in the media no …show more content…
Some of the most recognizable and enduring stories regarding success in America were those by Horatio Alger. His tale Ragged Dick follows the same formula as many of his other stories. A young man works hard and with a stroke of luck becomes wildly successful. This is the quintessential American myth of success. But in the essay Horatio Alger Harlon Dalton has a different notion of Alger’s work calling it “socially destructive” (261). How can this be? Alger suggests that one need merely work hard and opportunity will eventually knock. He addresses the fact that many people are born behind the starting line, but asserts that no matter the obstacle it can be overcome. However Dalton’s ”objection to the Alger myth is that it serves to maintain the racial pecking order. It does so by mentally bypassing the role of race in American society” (364). This seems a bit harsh, but though Alger attempts to make the case that regardless of where one might start, where there is a will there is a way, this ignores the many aspects of life that one cannot change e.g. race, gender, disability. Even back in the 1800s media made promises regarding success that it could not hope to …show more content…
Beginning in the 1950s, however, things began to change. As Coontz writes in What We Really Miss About the 1950s, it’s important to “understand the period as one of experimentation with the possibilities of a new kind of family, not as the expression of a longstanding tradition” (31). People needed help navigating a new way of life that necessitated new rules and they looked to the media for guidance. “At the time, everyone knew that shows such as Donna Reed, Ozzie and Harriet, Leave It To Beaver, and Father Knows Best were not the way families really were. People didn’t watch those shows to see their own lives reflected back at them. They watched them to see how families were supposed to live” (33). Looking for Work by Gary Soto echoes this notion. In the story he talks about his childhood attempts to convince his family to mimic the people he watched on television. When his siblings press him for the reason why he says, “If we improved the way we looked we might get along better in life. White people would like us more” (25). Interestingly, he cites many of the same shows as Coontz as influencing his behavior. Even a child could see the framework for living these shows provided and the belief they instilled that following their lead would lead to success. But this again flies in the face of reality. Minorities faced, both then and now, difficulties that cannot be resolved by acting out the

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