What is Alger's view on social class?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Through his work, Horatio Alger demonstrated a very unique view about social class.  It becomes evident that the "rags to riches" story is the narrative he embraces.  In Alger narratives, the poor aspire to become rich.  In this, there is a clear element of upholding the class system.  Alger does not construct characters who rebuke the upper class and the entire social stratification.  Rather, they become part of it.  The poor shoeshine boy or the newsie is not shown to foment a rebellion of the class structure.  Rather, they seek to become an embedded part of it by becoming rich.  In this, Alger's view of the social class system is one in which it is good to ascend through it.  Alger depicts individuals who become wealthy and then use their money for socially beneficial means.  Even though Alger's works became extremely important for Progressive thinkers who sought to reform the corruption of a business driven society, Alger's works demonstrate an acceptance of the class system where social stratification is evident, so long as it is open to individuals who are willing to work well and play by the rules of such a class system.  In this, Alger seems to be embracing the social class system that is a part of Industrial United States.

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