Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow Essay

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Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow Up until the late 1900?s, the American populace on the whole had assumed a very optimistic view of American history. Glossing over disgraceful events, emphasizing the brighter points in our history, our culture has attempted to ignore the obvious fact that we have had, and still have, our fair share of problems. In Ragtime, E.L. Doctorow unabashedly exposes some of the worst aspects of American life in our more recent history. Doctorow doesn?t hold back anything, providing detailed examples of human cruelty and sacrifice, and the evolution of American society. While critiquing American society was not the sole purpose of his novel, Doctorow does expose and examine many issues that people tended to ignore like…show more content…
Father?s departure for the North Pole marks the beginning of what the family would have viewed as a decline in their quality of their lives. In truth however, they are merely opening their eyes to a world that is not as perfect as they had perceived. As Father?s ship left the harbor, a passing immigrant ship caught his gaze and he could not remove his eyes from them. He saw ';Thousands of male heads in derbies. Thousands of female heads covered with shawls. It was a rag ship with a million dark eyes staring at him. Father, a normally resolute person, suddenly foundered in his soul. A weird despair seized him.'; (12) At the first sight of hardship in his sheltered life, Father finds himself not knowing what to do, or to feel. He has never seen such poverty at such a close distance, and its very existence causes him to feel afraid almost. In the following chapter, Doctorow proceeds to speak of the immigrants: ?They were filthy and illiterate. They stank of fish and garlic. They had running sores. They had no honor and worked for next to nothing. They stole. They drank. They raped their own daughters. They killed each other casually.'; (13) Father?s unnerving brush with poverty leaves him stricken with hopelessness and a feeling of despair. Yet even then, the family had not witnessed the full truth of the lives of the impoverished immigrants. Doctorow then proceeds to describe in harsh, uncensored terms the

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