Analysis of Ragtime

Topics: Ragtime, E. L. Doctorow, 20th century Pages: 2 (707 words) Published: March 13, 2012
by Maria Sevostyanova

“Ragtime” is a novel about the American life at the beginning of the 20th century. This book was written by the American writer Edgar Laurence Doktorow in 1975. This story tells us about Coalhouse Walker Jr., a black pianist, who leaves his pregnant girlfriend Sarah to make a career. Sarah tries to kill her baby but a family of honest and kind people takes her into their house to take care of her and her baby. The extract taken for the analysis tells about the time when Coalhouse becomes a good job with the Jim Europe Chief Club Orchestra and tries to bring Sarah back. The novel is written in a very specific manner. This style is called telegraphic. It means that the author’s speech is dry, has no vivid descriptions of characters, their feelings and their surroundings. To show some changes in the life of the characters the author uses rather syntactical devices than stylistic ones. In order to show something new in the life of the main characters the author uses inversion (“Such was the coming of the colored man in the car to Broadway Avenue”). Another sign of the telegraphic style is the use of asyndeton (“The driver was looking right and left as if trying to find a particular address; he turned the car around at the corner and came back.”) and polysyndeton (“He sat on the piano stool and immediately rose and twirled it till the height was to his satisfaction”). E.L. Doctorow uses these devices to create the atmosphere which characterizes the scene of the novel can remind the readers the rhythm of ragtime. In this extract another specific stylistic device is also used. The author reproduces the speech of the characters without using direct or indirect speech. This also helps to create a rhythm (“The boy realized he meant the woman in the attic. She’s here”, “What can you play? He said abruptly. Why don’t you play something for us?”). The members of the family that shelters Sarah have...
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