Ragtime American Dream

1476 Words Sep 7th, 2011 6 Pages
E.L. Doctorow’s novel Ragtime is a story involving certain characters, each trying to find his or her place in America. Doctorow focus’s on many themes throughout the novel, however, one theme that he gives to the reader from the very beginning of the novel is the American dream. Many characters throughout the novel individually take diverse journeys in order to fulfill what they might describe as “The American Dream.” Throughout Ragtime several characters venture upon momentous journeys whether they be sensible or unwise, in order to try and achieve their personal pursuit of the American dream. Tateh’s dream of survival and the basic pursuit of happiness is a worthwhile dream that ventures him through many long journeys with his …show more content…
As Doctorow states, “He wandered through the house finding everywhere signs of his own exclusion. His son now had a desk, as befitted all young students. He thought he heard an Arctic wind but it was the housemaid Brigit pushing an electric suction cleaner across the rug in the parlor” (109). Father’s “treasures” brought home from his expedition, are not perceived as valuable or even desirable to his family: “He pulled Arctic treasures from his trunk…incredible treasures in the North, but here in the parlor the embarrassing possessions of a savage. The family stood around and watched him on his knees. There was nothing he had for them” (110). Father is embarrassed by his family’s response and lack of interest. Father is struggling to reconcile the dream he left behind and the dream he pursued but does not accomplish. As the book progresses, Father grows increasingly distant from his family. At one point in the novel Father realizes he is no longer attracted to mother in a lustful way, most likely symbolizing the increasing separation he is experiencing from his family. As the narrator details, “Once accustomed to life together after his return from the Arctic, they had slipped into an undemanding companionship in which he felt bypassed by life, like a spectator at an event” (216). Father’s quest for personal fame and historical