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Ragged Dick

Horatio Alger Jr.


Dick Hunter is a shoeshiner working and living on the streets of New York City in the mid-19th century. Despite being dealt a bad hand, Dick attempts to extricate himself from his situation and become respectable. But it won’t be easy, thanks to the bullies, con men, and thieves that roam the city. Dick has to outmatch them with his wits, his work ethic, his honesty, and a bit of luck.

Ragged Dick is Alger’s most well-known novel, and it sets the formula for the numerous subsequent rags-to-riches stories for which he became famous. It also introduces the “Alger hero,” a character archetype who rises out of poverty through cleverness and hard work, into the American literary canon.

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