In the novel Ragtime, by E. L. Doctorow, injustice polarizes society by racism and murder. Racism is defined in the Encyclopedia Britannica’s dictionary as a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and those racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. A clear example of this is how the police dealt with Coalhouse’s (an African-American) car. Not only did they make the car dirty and torn, they also defecated on it, too. Now, it is fairly obvious that only reason that the cops damaged Coalhouse’s car like they did is because of his skin color.
In the time that this novel takes place; racism is at an all time high and even “America’s finest” had their part in it. It doesn’t stop there though. Another example is Coalhouse’s fiancee, Sarah (who is also African-American), tries to intervene on her fiancee’s behalf by petitioning the government on the matter of Coalhouse’s treatment The author of the novel “Ragtime” is rather popular American writer Edgar Lawrence Doctorow who was born in the Bronx, New York City. He was the son of second-generation Americans of Russian Jewish descent.
He published his first literary effort, The Beetle, in the school literary magazine, Dynamo. Young Edgar described his masterpiece as “a tale of etymological self-defamation inspired by my reading of Kafka”. During all his life he was send to the military service, than had a wife and 3 children and worked as an editor for the most part of his life. And finally left editing in order to write in 1969. Ragtime written in 1975 was named one of the hundred best novels of the 20th century by the Modern Library editorial board. As it was told in the preface we will learn about the tragedy of the main character's life.
Coalhouse Walker Jr. and his beloved woman Sarah are the two to suffer. But as we are allowed to analyze only small part of such a sad novel we will speak about changes. Changes that are supposed to be taken in the personal life of our main character and those changes that have already been taken while the family that saved Sarah got acquainted with the father of her baby. Moreover if we could deep into the final part of the narration we may have an opportunity to watch very difficult and numerous social and political changes in which our characters won't take the last part.
Lawrence Doctorow when Negroes were hated and worked hard to receive their own rights to live as a normal members of the society. That's what I've meant under the political and social changes. But personal views of the family I mentioned above became different after several visits of Coalhouse to their place and especially after his amusing play “The piece was brought to a conclusion. Everybody applauded. Mother than introduced Mr Walker to Grandfather and to Younger Brother, who shook the black man's hand and said I am pleased to meet you. The narration is from the third person and first of all we see the description of the main character.
Here the author wants us to notice a man of taste “…with a gloved hand…”,with intelligent appearance “He was a stocky man with a red- complected shining brown face, high cheekbones and large dark eyes….. He had a neat moustache. He was dressed in the affection of wealth…. ” , having a good car“…a new model of T-Ford slowly came up the hill…His car shone. ”, and proud of who he is “… and beckoned with the gloved hand.
And to show as that not everything about Negro is mentioned still, author puts an example of an unfinished sentence “The bright-work gleamed…I am looking for a young woman of color whose name is Sarah, be said. ” Besides we are allowed to hear his first words which by the way are designed not like a monologue but like a simple sentence in the flow of speech, and such phrases as “…be said. ” or “…if he could please speak to Sarah. ” make us believe that we're sitting in front of the author and listening how he is telling us this story live.
Moving further we as well as Coalhouse are invited to the house and begin our acquaintance with the family that Sarah lives in. And now we're even more assured that Doctorow has done a lot of things for the very special and difficult effect of his presence. He proved it by using anaphora for describing simple actions that were done by the Mother who wanted to call a woman he came to. “She told him to wait and closed the door. She climbed to the third floor. She found the girl Sarah…. ” All actions are very strict and precise. We can hardly find an epithet or a metaphor here.
The whole text except one moment that we'll be talking later organized as there is just the enumeration of actions “The colored man took another glance at the child, rose, thanked her and departed. ” Following the development of the plot we now know that Coalhouse has become a regular guest to the Broadview Avenue. His position was a complicated one: he was trying to give his love back, he saw his own child but had no chance to hold him or cuddle. But making his way through the forest of resentments, betrayals and distrust he continues to appear every week.
The author shows s these moments using such stylistic devise as anadiplosis, what proves us that the main character will definitely get what he wants. ”Beginning with that Sunday he appeared every week, always knocking at the back door. Always turning away without complaint…” So far we have just get right to the climax of the extract where the Mother decided to give Coalhouse more for the visit and to offer him a cup of tea. Here we see a very interesting example of simile “I see nothing wrong with it. When Mr Roosevelt was in the White House he gave dinner to Booker T. Washington.
Surely we can serve tea to Coalhouse Walker Jr. ” These are the exact words of the Mother and as we can see she compares this simple suburban tea with the White House meeting and imagine herself as a president, she automatically equals Coalhouse with the very popular political leader of these times and dominant figure in the African American community. And again we are the witnesses of simplicity. “And so it happened on the next Sunday that the Negro took tea. ” No feelings, no hesitation, not a single thought; should he be invited or not, should he except the invitation or not just the statement.
Then goes the story of the main character's life told by him and it ends with the unfinished sentence. “It was important, he said, for a musician to find a place that was permanent, a job that required no travelling… ” I think that he had a life full of hard moments and he was to move from town to town and probably had to start everything over again and again till now when he is a pianist and even can effort buying chrysanthemums in a such time of a year. What is again proved with the help of anaphora “I am through travelling, he said. I am through going on the road. And when he finally was asked to play.
We were shown every single action of the character. The scene is so distinct and strict so it pictures the greatest attention of the whole family to the man at the piano. “The black man placed tea on the tray. He rose, pated his lips with the napkin, placed the napkin beside his cup and went to the piano. He sat on the piano stool and immediately rose and twirled it…” And that's where all began. When Coalhouse started playing the whole house filled with the music as well as the hearts of the family.
And even words in the text were filled with the flow of art, with the soul. He played the extract of beauty in the narration. So that here in only fifteen sentences we see a kind of burst of the stylistic devises: epithets “robust composition; vigorous music; mute and unforgiving Sarah” and double gradation made up of similes “Small clear chords hung in the air like flowers. The melodies were like bouquets. ” Moreover both we and the main character are finally introduced to all occupants of the house.
And again while the author describing music there is not only enumeration “Mother, Father the boy, Grandfather and Mother's Younger Brother”, but also the explanation why one of them has come to hear “who had come down from his room in shirt and suspenders to see who was playing. Of all of them he was the only one who knew ragtime. He had heard it in his nightlife period in New York. ” Such a big passage of rather useless information I can only explain with the music that changed atmosphere of the house and the style of the narration.
All observers are so interested that they are scrutinize the very small details of their guest “long dark hands with their pink nails”. And as for me this awesome rag “The most famous rag of all rang though the air” has become the very first step to Sara's forgiveness “The music filled the stairwell to the third floor where the mute and unforgiving Sarah sat with her hands folded and listened with the door open. ” Further we see the ending of the extract and it is in the same manner as was the beginning. Short sentences. Enumerated actions. “Everyone was standing.
Everyone applauded. There was a silence. There was another silence“. But everything is not that bad, music changed his relations with the family in the whole and if Sarah is still silent he hasn't left hope for her forgiveness. I dot really like this text. The manner of writing is to strict and square for me. And the theme of the encroachment on the rights of Negroes is not the one I'm interested in. And I don't want to read this book till the end. But I hope that at least ones in I could have a chance to listen to the music that change lifes.