To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the adversary's resistance without fighting. --- Sun Tzu

If you compare two orphans ---- Pip in Great Expectations and Tom in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer --- you'll be comparing two, under-privileged young men, from two, widely-separated countries who both yearn for success and higher status. Pip saw his way forward through the sponsorship of a wealthy benefactor, but Tom saw his path forward as being more dependent on his wits, luck and planning than on the good deeds of an affluent sponsor.

The stories of both Mr. Dickens and Mr. Alger tackle issues of social class, family relationships, and discrimination. Great Expectations is more carefully written than either Adrift in New York or Tony the Tramp, but each of these stories provides an entertaining critique of society and teaches several important virtues (as well as a vice or two).

Like most fiction, both authors create tensions and solutions through numerous coincidences and strokes of luck. Both rely on fortuitous appearances of and interactions with life-changing sponsors. For Pip, the sponsorship arose from an accidental encounter in which Pip responded more from the threat the future sponsor presented than from his own efforts. With Mr Alger's sponsors, they came forward more because of the worthy actions of the protagonists than from random chance.

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