The American Dream is a notion of early American history that nationally represents prosperity and success. To achieve the American Dream you would have had created something from nothing regardless of your background. In a more contemporary view the American Dream is hard to pin point and to describe. It was difficult to find an article or some evidence that backs the idea of the modern American Dream in a positive manner. I found an article on Forbes that explains the complexity of the American Dream and how now in a modern context not many people would experience it.
'The American Dream of the past inspired hope and optimism. When you you could believe that anything was possible, it became easier to dream. While I wholeheartedly encourage people to continue dreaming (and dream big), you must be aware that the infrastructure and resources of that past are either gone, much more difficult to access, or in the process of being recreated'
The statement that I found neither dismisses the American Dream or really stands in favour of it. It leans more to the idea that the American Dream is still alive and well but has been reformed to fit a modern day context. The world of politics and corruption has twisted and moulded what used to be such a dream of 'ease' and now is something that has to be worked for on a new level of commitment. When you look back on the foundation of the American Dream you see that people could prosper and achieve from owning a plot of land and creating a business from it. In the 21st century you have to contend with millions to achieve to the likes of Richard Branson whom of which is regard as a 'modernised' personality who has achieved the American Dream. The article goes onto explain how it's not only a visualisation of what you want to achieve but you have also got to have the right credentials, attitude and responsibilities to have a chance, which really criticises the notion of the original American Dream and being able to achieve it.
When you put this into comparison with Ragged Dick you see that Dick was a very fortunate young boy, despite not achieving what he wanted entirely he still made it from the streets of New York to becoming a man in a suit with a job. The core of the ideas are still there, the idea of wanting to achieve, not necessarily to become rich but to become 'something'. However the ease in which became apparent in the 1800's that it was literally 'Rags to Riches' has become pretty null and void in a modernised context. The idea that Dick was a boot-black and after a period of just over 9 months in the book was able to achieve what he did seems so obtuse nowadays, however he appeared to be 'too' lucky in the people he met embraced him with open arms, but you could see this as a product of his personality.
In society today it would be regarded as improbable for someone who is homeless and working on the streets to be fortunate enough to relive the notion of 'Rags to Riches', especially with a corrupt government and an economy that is teetering in and out of control. Many say that the belief is there and if you work hard enough you can achieve it, but how hard do you have to work and will all the hard work pay off?