The Horatio Alger story I analyzed was, “Phil the Fiddler, Or, The Story of a Young Street Musician”.
Immediately I was struck by how the past tense of ‘to ask’ was among the ,ost used words. When I look at the contexts of ‘asked’, the data shows that the early questions in the book seem to be imperative, like “what do you want from me”, as well as a lot of questions asking about money. But, toward the end of the story, the questions become more reflective, “what’s the matter?” “where am i?” “where is my fiddle?” It’s possible that the earlier questions suggest that the main character, Phil, was using his fiddle to ‘ask’ for money, now he’s wondering where it is, perhaps even longing for the street life he once knew. http://voyant-tools.org/?corpus=9215320775ea99d22bea3fbdebd4ad7c&stopList=keywords-21f717e9fd8f6a0308e6f059253f9894&query=asked&view=Contexts
I then looked up the context surrounding the word ‘home’. Using the Wikipedia article on Alger, I learned that during the time ‘Phil, The Fiddler’s publication, Alger was in financial trouble (despite his success as an author) and was a live-in tutor for the children of a wealthy banker. I figured he might then have an interesting idea of what ‘home’ could mean, and based on the context data, I don’t think I was wrong. Immediately off the bat, I was struck by how all the surrounding language of ‘home’ is about “bringing things” home, mainly money. Home so far seems like a place to deposit your earnings of the day, which is far from the cozy fireplace and blankets I consider when I think of home.
It seems like no one is ever at home, only that they are going home or trying to get homePerhaps to Alger, home was not a place he spent time at during this era. The only time he discussed home was if he was talking about going there. http://voyant-tools.org/?corpus=9215320775ea99d22bea3fbdebd4ad7c&stopList=keywords-21f717e9fd8f6a0308e6f059253f9894&query=home*&view=Contexts
I decided to then look up the context of money, and immediately I noticed how it was discussed in only practical matters. There was no musing on the concept of money or what it means to have money. It was discussed only in very practical ways, usually concerned with obtaining it.http://voyant-tools.org/?corpus=9215320775ea99d22bea3fbdebd4ad7c&stopList=keywords-21f717e9fd8f6a0308e6f059253f9894&query=money&view=Contexts
I then put money in the word tree module and quickly saw how, oddly, it existed most at the end of sentences. It seemed to most notably exist within quotes, followed by terms that indicated further quotes. This suggests that money is something mainly discussed by the characters of the story. Although the narrator doesn’t necessarily mention it, it seems to be of greater concern to the characters. http://voyant-tools.org/?corpus=9215320775ea99d22bea3fbdebd4ad7c&stopList=keywords-a3bf400175098c9c9e9a6cbaf0999d91&query=money&view=WordTree
I then plugged money into the trends module and got a result I was not expecting at all. The discussion of money has a fairly study decrease throughout the entire story. It seems to start out as having a great deal of importance but that changes pretty drastically over the course of the book. Looking at this, I can’t help but think that it must have something to do with the data I found in “asking”. Towards the end, questions become less and less material and thus less money-driven, and we begin to see a trend away from money. Perhaps the story’s main character is always trying to get money only to learn that money can only do so much? Perhaps the cliche, money can’t buy you happiness bit?http://voyant-tools.org/?corpus=9215320775ea99d22bea3fbdebd4ad7c&stopList=keywords-a3bf400175098c9c9e9a6cbaf0999d91&query=money&withDistributions=raw&docIndex=0&mode=document&view=Trends
So to test that, I looked up ‘happy’ in the trends module and got a result more perfect than I could have hoped for. It is near opposite the trend of money, showing a sharp increase toward the end. So, as money gets talked about less and less, happiness is mentioned more and more. http://voyant-tools.org/?corpus=9215320775ea99d22bea3fbdebd4ad7c&stopList=keywords-a3bf400175098c9c9e9a6cbaf0999d91&query=happy&withDistributions=raw&docIndex=0&mode=document&view=Trends