First Writing Assignment: Close Reading
Some of the themes that occur throughout Ragged Dick are -- respectability, money, morality, life in the city, friendship and male-male relationships, class, identity, ambition, growth/improvement, appearances/clothes, false appearances/con games.
Start by chosing the theme that interests you most, then find in the novel a passage (about 150-250 words) that seems to you to say or imply a lot about that theme. Begin your exercise by copying out the passage, then, in 250-400 words of your own, analyse what the passage does say or imply about the theme. Be specific about what is in the passage (the specific words, images, patterns, etc.), and be clear about what you think they mean.
You shouldn't try to describe the whole novel, or even how the one theme appears in the whole novel, but just how it is developed and displayed in the passage you've quoted.