Ragtime Novel Essays

Throughout the novel Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow there were major cultural and social changes. The cutural changes were from the creations of unions to the moving picture industry to the creation of a middle class. The development of unions was moving the lower class of society up into an undevoped middle class and moving some of the rich down to this new middle class. Some of the social changes ranged from changes in women's sexual prefrances to the revolution of black rights. The two characters that I belive followed these changes the most were Tateh and Younger Brother.

Tateh started out as a poor man who who painted fifteen cent sillouettes on a New York street corner. Until one day Evelyn Nesbit was driving by and saw how beautiful Tateh's young daughter was. Evelyn bought many sillouettes from Tateh so he to treat the young girl well. He went to a meeting with Evelyn and realized that she was a rich woman who enjoyed the company of men. This put money in Evelyn's pocket since she used her beauty to succeed in life. After shunning his wife away for sleeping with her boss, he shunned Evelyn away for using her beauty for the same means. This made him leave New York to find a better life for himand his daughter.

Tateh ended up in this small mill in Massachusites working on the mill. This small town, one week, was short a couple dollars in their pay checks, and decided to strike against the mill owners. The workers all got toughter and formed a union to regain their proper amount plus some to their weekly pay. Forming Unions was one of the many cutural changes in this novel. Unions gave the poor people more power over the issues the that effect them the most. Tateh was right in the middle of this turmoil, but was seeing the strike slowly get violant. He reluctantly decided to send the little girl, his prise possestion, away to weathy family. But when she was about to get on the train they were attacked by the Militia. They get out and went to a little town where Tath sold his flip book to a toy store owner and got a contract for him to make four more and recive they same money for each one. He was well on his way into his later job in the moving picture industry. This job as a moving picture producer advanced him into the middle class that he always dreamed of. This also opened the door for his later romance and eventual marrage with Mother from the New Rochel family. He was a prime example of the america dream and how people wanted to go from a poor imigrant to a middle class working man.

The next character that went under a lot of change was the New Rochle family's younger brother. He was a shy man who just went to work ad came home. Until one day when he became with this beautiful rich woman, Evelyn Nesbit. He flowed he around almost to protect her, and one day she noticed him. A relationshp spured from that. This was a sexual relationship that showed one of the many social changes that was going on at the time. The change in womans sexual preferances from fat rich men to skinny vibrant young men. Their romance lasted a while but devoped into nothing but heartbreak for younger brother. He needed to find his idtity so he went on long walks till one day it dawned on him to join Coalhouse Walker's gang. He presented it to Coalhose and informed him that he could make bombs. This got him in and he was wth Coal house till he was told to leave before Coalhouse's death. The Younger brother takes his knowlage of explosives and helps other rebel groups until his death. This was his calling, his vision of life, his identity.

These characters portrayed the perfact examples of what the culture was like and and how it was changing. They symbolized people from ragtime from both ways of thought to different sides of the law. They diplayed what it was like during ths great era of ragtime.


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Ragtime By E.L. Doctorow Essay

Many of the subplots from the steelworkers' strikes through the description of the tenement life in New York tie into Emma Goldman's quote. The entire quote carries the theme of the book so well as to offer an alternative to the existence of humans around the turn of the century. In almost every story and character, we find suffering and inequality among the people. This paper describes a handful of examples relating to Emma Goldman's reference to the human tragedy of the era of industrialization.

E.L. Doctorow's novel is set in the New York area in the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Each of the several story lines involves to some extent a bourgeois family in New Rochelle, a famous suburb on Long Island, one of the five boroughs of New York City. The book itself contains some of the most famous personalities of the turn of the century. Such famous people as Harry Houdini, Sigmund Freud, Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Mexican revolutionaries Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, Robber Barons Henry Ford and J.P. Morgan, and many others who are given a mention in the book.

The historical choice for the backdrop to the book suits Goldman's phrase well. The turn of the 20th century was a prime example of the have and have-nots. For example, on page 57 Emma Goldman gives Evelyn a speech about the sex trade and its decedent nature. She goes as far as calling Evelyn a prostitute because "like all whores, you value property and money." Goldman accuses Evelyn of marrying for money, thus becoming another product of capitalism and its preoccupation with wealth. Emma Goldman's character, an anarchist, portrays the awakening of Evelyn and the realization that so many suffer to make the United States a superpower. Not by coincidence, fifty percent of the American population, women were subservient to men at the time and for once decided to do something about it. This era is one of the turning points for feminists. The Suffrage movement had begun.

Another example is the description of the Jewish artist and his daughter in chapter seven. The chapter begins with a description of life in the tenements of New York and the horrid condition immigrants had to live in. Evelyn is moved by the plight of the father and his daughter and feels she needs to help them. Evelyn is especially shocked at the remark that young girls are kidnapped on a daily basis and sold into slavery. To me, the epitome of human bondage, especially of children, is the worst example of capitalism gone wrong. This example is a strong argument for Goldman and still holds today. Instead of children from New York, the children sold into slavery today are from India or Colombia. Since capitalism has spread around the world, the era of globalization has allowed people to trade in humans from around the world just like any other...

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