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The Views of Doctorow in RAGTIME

Uploaded by Quest4Glory on Jul 17, 2005

In the classic E.L. Doctorow novel, Ragtime, we see the juxtaposition of many motifs to represent Doctorow's view of the early century. By combining history and fiction Doctorow allows himself to write a semi-accurate interpretation of the early 1900's while also being able to strongly express his own biases and opinions of the era. The biggest, and perhaps most important theme Doctorow applies in the novel is social tension, or the battle of the rich versus the poor. Other important themes include rebirth, racial tension, and high randomness of events. By using these themes and others, movie makers created a film, which they believe best represents Doctorow's views.

It is apparent that Doctorow clearly favors the poor, lower class, in their struggle for economic and social mobility against the few, rich, upper class citizens. Doctorow's thoughts are best depicted through the novel's characters. Tateh, Coalhouse Walker and Sarah are all characters who are portrayed as 'good'. These characters, while representing a wide range of economic success, all symbolize socially challenged individuals. Throughout the novel, Doctorow always chooses these or similar types of characters to be the protagonists. Doctorow wants the reader to feel for Coalhouse's situation. He wants the reader to hope that Willie Conklin is harmed and the Model T Ford is repaired. On the other hand, Doctorow tells a different tale for the economic elite, upper echelon of society, represented by J.P. Morgan and Henry Ford. Morgan is presented as a snobbish old man, who always gets his way, and we are supposed to feel no remorse for him when his museum is broken int!

We, the readers, are inclined to agree with Doctorow's opinion only because that is the way he planned it. Doctorow did not touch on any negative aspects of Coalhouse Walker's actions, such as innocent firemen that he killed, and their families, perhaps, because this might sway the reader's belief as to Coalhouse's innocence. The film, Ragtime, does support Doctorow's social tension beliefs, however it leaves more things open for the reader to decide. For example the book gives the impression that Coalhouse is killing the racist bad firemen. The movie shows him shooting and blowing up firemen, who perhaps could be 'good' people.

The concept of rebirth is used liberally by Doctorow. Doctorow commonly has a character go through a major transmogrification, or rebirth. This rebirth ordinarily happens when moving from one social class to...

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Uploaded by:   Quest4Glory

Date:   07/17/2005

Category:   Literature

Length:   6 pages (1,334 words)

Views:   9713

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