This extract is taken from the novel “Ragtime” by the American writer
E.L.Doctorow and is centred on a black jazz pianist, Coalhouse Walker Jr. The text contains a detailed narration of the way Coalhouse Walker Jr. Made his appearance at a certain house in which a white family lived. We are given neither the names of the family, nor their ages, nor any other details. The author calls them Mother, Father, Grandfather, Mother’s Younger Brother and the boy, but they do not play an important part in the story. It is, a young black woman
Sarah, living with the family, who is the focus of the narration. It is for her sake
Coalhouse keeps visiting the house and does not seem discouraged at her constant refusals to see him.
The author gives very scanty information about Sarah. We come to know she had a baby, but we are in the dark about her life story, her relatives and friends. The author does not present any direct facts, the reader has to read between the lines. As we can gather from the extract Coalhouse and Sarah loved each other and must have been on intimate terms. But later her lover abandoned her and she bore his child. The author does not explain the man’s behaviour in any way and it is left for the reader to guess the reason for his actions. But nonetheless, the reader does not make an unpleasant judgement. It seems Coalhouse had left the woman he loved not because he did not care or was irresponsible; from Coalhouse’s own words, the reader can conclude that he had to make a living, and he could not have done it staying in one place. “It is important, he said, for a musician to find a place that was permanent, a job that required no travelling…
I am through travelling, he said, I am through going on the road.”
In this extract, Coalhouse appeared after some time had passed. He had obviously found his place in the sun, having become rather well-to-do. He could afford to have a family of his own and wanted Sarah to