The Virtue of Rags (1912) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • A grouchy landlord discharges a kind-hearted rent collector for failing to collect the rent from an impoverished widow. After dreaming that he himself is experiencing the sordid experiences of being destitute, the old man sees the error of his ways and becomes suddenly charitable.

  • A collector calling on a poor family in a tenement dwelling, finding them facing starvation, decides that a little money given to them would be better than pressing them for the rent. He returns to his employer, Grouch, a crabbed old gentleman, who discharges him for not getting the rent money. Grouch calls at the tenement and has the widow put out. After doing this "kind" act, Grouch makes a visit to his club, where one of the members, being informed of his selfish and inhuman act, asks him to join the rest of the boys in a drink that has been "fixed" with a sleeping powder. Grouch drinks, and falls into a heavy slumber. The boys now dress him up in old clothes, and, taking him in an automobile to the park, leave him on a bench. A park policeman passing the bench notices the supposed tramp, wakes him up and orders him to "move on." He is later refused admittance to his home and is finally thrown into a station cell, where his friends find him asleep. They redress him and take him back to the club where, on awakening, he believes it to have been a dream. Regenerated through the virtue of rags, he restores the widow to her rooms, installs new furniture and leaves with the satisfaction of knowing he has made reparation for long years of misery.


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