Ragtime

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Ragtime
E. L. Doctorow

CHARACTERS
Mother: Mother is part of the upper class family living in New Rochelle. Disappointed by her marriage to Father, she marries Tateh after Father's death. She often feels guilt over her treatment of her brother. Throughout the novel she experiences many changes through her care for the child of Coalhouse and Sarah, as well as her newfound awareness of her sexuality. Father: Father owns a company that manufactures fireworks and other accessories of patriotism such as flags and banners. He represents the traditional views held by many turn-of-the-century Americans. After his return from his trip to the Arctic, he feels isolated from his family; this feeling will never disappears. Mothers Younger Brother: Best described as idealistic and difficult, he searches for a sense of self throughout the novel. He falls in love with Evelyn Nesbit, and spends some time with her before she leaves him. He becomes bitter and falls into a state of depression, and soon joins with Coalhouse to fight injustice. Afterward, he travels all around the United States and then to Mexico, where he becomes involved in several revolutionary campaigns and where he eventually dies. Tateh: A Jewish immigrant from Latvia, originally he lives with his daughter on the Lower East Side, working as a peddler and a silhouette artist. He later leaves with his daughter to travel to Lawrence, Massachusetts, where he becomes a filmmaker. He marries Mother at the end of the novel. Coalhouse Walker: Coalhouse is a ragtime pianist. He is the father of Sarah's child. He becomes militant and violent about his cause by the end of the novel. It is noted by Father in the novel that Coalhouse “didn’t know he was a Negro.” “[He] didn’t act or talk like a colored man.”

JESSE HOUSE
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AP Question #16: A critic has said that one important measure of a superior work of literature is its ability to produce in the reader a healthy confusion of pleasure...
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