In the classic E.L. Doctorow novel, Ragtime, we see the juxtaposition of many motifs to represent Doctorow?s view of the early century. By combining history and fiction Doctorow allows himself to write a semi-accurate interpretation of the early 1900?s while also being able to strongly express his own biases and opinions of the era. The biggest and perhaps most important theme Doctorow applies in the novel is social tension, or the battle of the rich versus the poor. Other important themes include rebirth, racial tension, and high randomness of events. It is apparent that Doctorow clearly favors the poor, lower class, in their struggle for economic and social mobility against the few, rich, and upper class citizens. Doctorow?s thoughts are best depicted through the novel?s characters. Tateh, Coalhouse Walker and Sarah are all characters who are portrayed as ?good?. These characters, while representing a wide range of economic success, all symbolize socially challenged individuals.
Throughout the novel, Doctorow always chooses these or similar types of characters to be the protagonists. Doctorow wants the reader to feel for Coalhouse?s situation. He wants the reader to hope that Willie Conklin is harmed
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