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Ragtime

In E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime, we learn the story and struggles of distinct genders, classes, races and ethnicities during the turn of the last century. Two such members of these different backgrounds are Tateh and Coalhouse. The first man is a Jewish immigrant who transforms himself from a poverty stricken, frightened newcomer to Baron Ashenazy, a wealthy, flamboyant Americanized filmmaker. The second man is an educated, well-dressed black musician who comes to be known as an enraged lunatic because of his organized violent raids against the more powerful white class. Together, these men are a prime example of how American society – its demands, prejudices and opportunities – can change a man’s mentality. In this essay, I will contrast the difficulties faced by Tateh and Coalhouse in establishing their roles as fathers as they relate to gender, class, race and ethnicity. At the beginning of twentieth century, it is the role of the man to provide for his family. He must contribute a steady income, safety, and maybe for the first time in history, love of his wife and children. Throughout our story, we find that Tateh’s and Coalhouse’s sole purpose in life seems to be to take care of their families. Because Tateh is a single parent, he must bring his daughter to work with him each and every day. For safety purposes, he wears a clothesline attached to his daughter’s wrist “so that the girl is not stolen from him” (37). This is done because it is a common occurrence for young girls of the immigrant slums to be stolen from their parents and sold into slavery. Black haired, brown eyed and olive skinned, Tateh’s daughter is the only thing he has to represent himself. She is simply his only source of joy. As time continues, and his wealth increases, Tateh moves his daughter out of the slums and provides her with ample food, gorgeous clothing and a hope for the future. Coalhouse too takes pride in his family, but ...

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Ragtime. (1969, December 31). In DirectEssays.com. Retrieved 23:30, November 22, 2014, from http://www.megaessays.com/viewpaper/74281.html