In The Accidental Asian, Eric Liu portrays how Asian Americans are viewed in the American society while Ragged Dick by Horatio Alger depicts a poor American boy and how he is viewed in the American society. Both Eric Liu and Ragged Dick face something they must struggle to find or to be. In Eric Liu's case, his "Chineseness" is what he searches for and also what he says he wishes to have more of while living as an Asian American, but he also feels he must struggle to fit in with the white society. Ragged Dick struggles to find success and be wealthy through determination while living as a homeless boy without any guidance or presented opportunities. Both Eric Liu and Ragged Dick strive to reach their hopes. .
Living in America, Eric Liu says, had a permanent effect on his culture. His parents migrated to the United States when they were about 18 years old. Eric describes his experience as a boy raised by way of the American culture, and searches for his true identity and connection to the Chinese culture and the meaning of it. Living in America, he could not find enough opportunity to maintain his heritage so he lives his life today as a white man wearing the mask of a Chinaman.
Ragged Dick is a boy who lived in New York as a poor, homeless shoe shiner and spent his earlier years struggling to survive off of what few cents he made. He has no parents or guidance at all for that matter and lives by means of his own choices and morals. When he meets an upper class boy named Frank, he does receive some brief advice on how to make something of himself, but it is mainly through his own sacrifices and decisions that Dick eventually moves up the social ladder and claims his spot as an admired middle class boy with progression ahead. .
Determination is the key trait which Ragged Dick and Eric Liu must possess to reach their purposes. "He meant to save his money for some useful purpose, -- to aid his advancement in the world.