Coalhouse Walker Jr.

Length: 2 Pages 556 Words

In the novel Ragtime, the character Coalhouse Walker Jr. turns to a life of violence after an incident procured by a bunch of racist volunteer firefighters. The Emerald Isle volunteer firefighter staff vandalized Coalhouse’s car, when they detained him in order to make him pay a toll for passage on their road. Coalhouse is a black pianist, who in general was a very humble and obedient man, until that incident made him out to be a depraved killer. His change from a calm man into a violent one was also furthered by the death of his fiancée Sarah, who was killed by the Vice-President’s bodyguards. The combination of events, both the loss of his future wife and the vandalizing of his custom-made car made Coalhouse turn to violence as a solution to his problems. The author the novel, E.L. Doctorow uses this incident to Continue...

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This occurrence is a harsh reminder of how the black people were persecuted in earlier times. point out the extreme racial discrimination and ignorance of the white populace in the early 1900's. There are some people who agree with the idea that violence as a political tool is right and there are others who acknowledge the fact that it is an incorrect way to solve problems. I think that when a solution is sought in a manner as such, it usually forces an unnatural, and unwanted resolution, which never is as compromising as one without the use force. The same idea can be seen in an editorial written about the killings, "...Coalhouse should accept the principle that any man who takes the law into his own hands...defames the same justice he seeks to enforce (201). I believe that when violence is used to try to solve something it is a bad way to go about the correction of that problem. In situations as such, the use of force is a more acceptable, but still not the best, solution. This repetition shows to the reader that it is an important belief of Coalhouse's to seek compensation, and in anyway necessary. Doctorow also tries to balance the attitude towards Coalhouse's actions by offering other perspectives, if only a few, to the destruction of the firehouses. to generalize this sentiment, and also in a way justifies the reactions of Coalhouse. The small viewpoint of condemnation in the book shows to us that Doctorow believes Coalhouse acted correctly. After the occasion at the firehouse, Doctorow repeats the fact that Coalhouse is a very dignified and persistent man by having him go on about his desire to have reparations made, and to seek the justice of Willie Conklin. Doctorow applies the character of Coalhouse Walker Jr.