Literal analysis of E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime; Themes, Symbols, Motifs and Tone, Genre and Writing Style

Three families' lives in Ragtime

Three families' lives are followed in the book Ragtime. The families' livelihoods are divided at the book's beginning, but by the book's conclusion, all the families had come together. The fact that the book opens with a clearly white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant viewpoint from a young boy who is becoming a man. The audience is aware that from this perspective, the early 20th-century American era during which President Roosevelt was in office was archaic. It was the perfect age. The narrative continues to introduce many other aspects of livelihoods which shall be discussed later in the paper. The main focus of the paper shall be the analysis of thematic presentation, imagery employed by the writer, motifs, genre as well as the tone of writing.

Themes of intricacy in accepting change

The author has managed to portray many themes in work. The first theme is the intricacy in accepting change. E.L. Doctorow talks about numerous key changes in the society in these, particularly period. He articulates the impacts of the changes via the responses of the characters. Whereas a few characters receive and acknowledge change, others rebuff and resist it. These diverse reactions become in means in which Doctorow create his characters. For instance, Father could not follow the transformations that he confronts after returning from expedition. He undergoes depression of his emotions of separation from his family as well as the habits of the incoming century (Doctorow 26). He is vulnerable due to improved self-reliance of his spouse and child. Mother, in contrast, explores her newly found skills and freedom as freeing and does well when Father is away. Her responsibilities with the family business and her obligations toward Sarah and her kid caused her to identify her skills. At the last part of the play, she gets married to Tateh at a period when intermarriage among Christians and Jews was prohibited.

The struggle for stability and significance

The struggle for stability and significance is also another theme. All through the story, characters try to develop meaning from their encounters and ways in which the humankind shifts and transforms them. The author centers on the progression in which the character try to resolve their yearnings for steadiness with their understanding that life occurrences regularly tend to possess no intention or course. Doctorow shortly alluded to Theodore Dreiser, whom he depicts as regularly changing the location of his seat to line up himself well, yet not achieving the gratification (Doctorow 30-39). Peary's journey to the North Pole and successive failure to identify the exact position of the North Pole articulate this endeavor to get harmony among commotion.

Effect of technological advancement on culture

The effect of technological advancement on culture is also represented. The progressive period in which the story is written was a time of fast technological advancements as well as industrialization. This era additionally saw huge numbers of immigrants along with increases in the urban populations and constructions. Technological developments allowed enhanced efficiently and mass production. Nonetheless, Doctorow precisely questions the implications of the technology for the US employee. J.P. Morgan's conversation with Henry Ford on ford's modernizations adds to this deliberation. Here writer talks about the possibility of technology undermining the significance of the person along with his capabilities.

Captivity along with fake liberation

Captivity along with fake liberation. The author integrates the apprehension in detention and liberty into the struggle of many characters. Captivity can be seen in numerous ways in the narrative, bodily, emotional, theoretical, political, and financial. For instance, Harry Houdini, a renowned escape entertainer amazes the gathering with his skill to get away from any closed space, hence, his struggle is not from physical imprisonment, but emotional. In public, he illustrates his liberation from imprisonment (Doctorow 60). Nonetheless, he seems not to get any gratification from his achievements since in private; he is obsessed with his mother which goes on even after her demise, thus, he has no emotional freedom. Tateh additionally encounters a feeling of captivity when in New York and even tries to flee away to other places.

Motif of historical truth

The author also employs motifs in his message conveyance. One motif is the nature of historical truth. In this story, the author did make references to well-known historical figures and occurrences. Nonetheless, he regularly modifies particular details or completely formulates situations. In this manner, the novel takes on a component of daydream and dealing with the prejudice of the historical events. The author refuses one-sided supremes preferring a more complicated viewpoint of history enhanced by a diversity of voices. The author's numerous unified characters and occurrences attract the interest of persons' different responses to same occurrences and situations. Through this process of classification, the audience obtains a deep outlook into the character and wider societal trends inherent in the character's responses.

Symbolism of motion picture and photography

Motion picture and photography is an imagery employed in the novel as well. The motion images, an advancement of the progressive period, get reputation amid this period, with the danger brought to the conventional art and traditions and moderately cheap cost of making a movie. Tateh realizes his entire well-being by being involved with the generation of movies. Also, the author's interest in symbolism can be seen in his composition. The book articulates an interest in the enhanced utilization of replication because of advances in technology and the successive loss of personal space.

Depiction of sexualized females in the new age America

Evelyn Nesbit, depicted to show the emergence of sexualized female in the new age America. The author even clearly names her as the first sex goddess. As Emma Goldman explains in her get-together that Evelyn utilizes her body along with sexuality to obtain status in the society. She represents a particular gullibility about destitution, characteristic of the affluent class particularly on her earliest trip to the lower east side.

Ragtime Music

Ragtime Music. Ragtime used as the title of the novel for a good reason; it epitomizes the last time America moved at a slow rate. Ragtime music is often played at a very slow pace. The period of story writing is when America caught its breath prior to the upsurge of automobiles, technology, computers and telephones. Even the author, tells the short in short steady sentences. It should be noted that ragtime music was an antecedent of jazz music which is linked to an absence of innocence. Jazz music is known for its liberation and craziness. The ragtime age clung to the final pieces of innocence. Father is also used as a symbol of resistance to change (Doctorow 62). He wants to remain in the ancient era and does not want to adapt to the new transformations. He is even depressed. Mother, on the other hand, is very receptive to the changes that take place. In fact, she goes ahead and finds her hidden abilities and skills.

Narrative style and voice

The author uses a unique narrative style. The storyteller is neither an omniscient and uncomplicated person nor any other particular character. Reviewers have different views on where the narrative tone is originating from; however, a majority thinks it was that of the American composition. The narrator's sense of chronological outlook and his employment of satirical and metaphorical interpretation, tend to support this perception. The narrators' understanding of the small boy's deliberation and emotions may make the audience think that the boy narratives the tale, nonetheless, the story voice is in the third person. Additionally, maybe Tateh's small girl offers the narrative voice (Doctorow 68). A different likelihood is the perception that the small girl and boy both recite the narrative. Tateh, Mameh, and the small girl get their equivalent in Father, Mother, and the little boy, maybe, every kid offers diverse constituents of the recitation and the storyline, to generate a more all-inclusive picture of American the new century. The recurring existence of 'we' all through the story supports this conviction that the two voices recite together.

Writing style and genre

The author's writing style is straight to the point. There is no use of unnecessary world to explain the drama. He simply describes the changing history as it is. The genre of the story would be historical fiction. It was written in the early 1900s. The authors used both fact and fiction, famous and non-famous in a way that recreates the whole period illustrating ways in which history affect everybody. It also shows how everyone on the planet is a part of a time where their actions impact individuals in ways they could not have imagined. Doctorow presented his message clearly in the story through many literary tools as discussed in the paper. The reader can understand clearly and learns the impact of their lives on other people or future generations without even knowing it.

Works Cited

Doctorow, E L. Ragtime. , 2014. Internet resource.

Doctorow, Edgar Lawrence. Creationists: selected essays, 1993-2006. Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2007.

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