"What is startling is that these bright, ambitious youngsters just don't believe that talent and hard work are enough to ensure they will ever have a shot at that mythical American Dream."
The statement here is very much doubting the American Dream, believing that in today's society, Youths have lost belief in the dream and think that 'something more' is needed to achieve this. Because the youngsters believe that they will not achieve the dream. many do not try hard or work hard as they have no trust in the so called 'dream' becoming true.
The fact that the word 'mythical' was used in front of American Dream possibly shows that the Phrase is now the past, it's history and would be questioning whether it's still occurring in the current America.
Applying this to Ragged Dick, Where the 14 year old Dick wanted to become more than a 'black boot' still applies today.
" Isabel wanted more than the dream -The Dream is to work, to have a home, to get ahead, you can start as a janitor and become the owner of the building."
The statement here can apply to the notion of what Ragged Dick supplies to the audience the belief in going from 'rags to riches' Many Americans still believing that America shall supply them a perfect life, believing they would go from nobody to somebody although as like Dick, the dream can happen for some but not all. The notion can be argued in today's contemporary society that it does not indeed exist for most as many American's are working multiple low paid jobs to make sure that there family are living a comfortable life.
"the multiple, low paid jobs that their parents must do simply to get the rent paid and put food on the table."
Here it shows that the ideologies that is set out in Ragged Dick are somewhat changed today's society. Not everyone are able to achieve the dream and however hard individuals are working many are still in Alger's words 'Ragged' than achieving rich.