Ragtime: Black People and E.l. Doctorow

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Text from Ragtime

This novel written by the well-known novelist named E.L. Doctorow is about the race relations in turn-of-the-century America and reflects many of the changes the nation faced at that time. E.L. Doctorow addresses several major social changes in turn-of-the-century America in his novel Ragtime. Ragtime is centered around several very different people, from rich to poor. He conveys the effects of these changes through the reactions of the characters. Some characters welcome and accept change, while other reject and struggle with it. This novel is narrated in the third person and the tone of  this extract is ironic, rhetorical. The plot of this extract revolves around Coalhouse Walker, the black musician from Harlem. He has incredible import to the main themes of the novel. His characterization provides insight into race relations in (начало времени) turn-of-the-century America. Many characters react strongly to his mannerisms, as they believe his social position does not warrant such behavior. Because Coalhouse conducts himself with a sense of pride atypical of African Americans at this point in history, his expectations of how he should be treated repeatedly come into direct conflict with others' expectations of how African Americans should be treated. Coalhouse Walker, then, represents all African Americans who challenge the expectations many whites have of them. In the exposition of this extract the author describes the scene when Coalhouse Walker arrived at Broadview Avenue – a district where rich and “white” people lived. Everything in that scene of arrival – beginning at his car “…a new model T-Ford”, his “gloved hand”, dressed “in the affection of wealth” and ending at the manner of his behavior (“…resolute…self-important in the way he asked…”) – shows us how earth-shatteringly and improperly the “black man” conducted himself. Because in turn-of-the-century America black people had no rights and...
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