The Concept of the American Dream in E L Doctorow’s Ragtime

The union of improbable episodes and characters in Ragtime embodies a tableau where in the lives of various types of Americans are situated side by side. Bringing to mind the picture of the tableau totally weakens the notion of America as a melting pot, obscuring notions of integration. Even though the characters’ lives from different contexts interconnect, they unite unequally. Evelyn Nesbit vanishes from the life of Tateh. Morgan and Ford do not have continuous communication. Emma Goldman has hardly any control over her external realm. However, when several characters intermingle with others from diverse backdrops, lives are enduringly transformed: most particularly when Mother and Tateh interact, and Mother and Sara relate. Thus, Ragtime shows the multifarious, random essence of interaction in a culturally diverse society. The Main Characters’ American Dream As a thriving entrepreneur and traveler, Father embodies the restraints of American ideas of Manifest Destiny. Through Father, the novel deconstructs the myth of self-discovery. Instead of giving an opportunity to Father for accomplishment and discovery, each voyage increasingly estranges him from his home and, worst, from himself. Upon the return of Father from the journey to the Arctic, he was not even aware of the appropriate actions and manners in a domestic context: The family stood around and watched him on his knees. There was nothing he had to tell them (Doctorow 2007, 110). The exploration of the novel of a man’s fall is also a portion of the American dream tradition, for a lot of American romances concentrate on leading men and relate not just the conditions which estranged them from their homelands, but also their ultimate weakness and decline. Operating within this tradition, the novel illustrates three leading men, exposing not just who can embrace proper behavior and outlooks, but who is permitted to change as well. Contrary to Father, the capability of Mother to deal with change is shown by her informally adopting an African-American infant, and getting married with Tateh. Furthermore, dissimilar from Father, she is polite to Coalhouse Walker and compassionate to him. Mother’s broad-mindedness is probably the outcome of the changes she experienced during the voyage of Father assuming more responsibility for the domestic setting and becoming more conscious of her sexuality, an understated change that on an individual stage mirrors momentous change coming over the United States (Doctorow 2007, 82). As time progressed, Mother yearns for a ‘life of genius’ (p. 54) outside those that could be given to her by the traditional Father. Her longing could be perceived as characterizing the American Dream reconstructed by a number of present-day intellectuals as not merely or even mainly ascending mobility, but instead the opportunity to subsist in freedom and develop one’s talent and skills. Ragtime’s American Dream Cities have been immigrants’ entry points. Immigrants who enter the United States in pursuit of a greener pasture were frequently surprised at their mistreatment and deplorable living circumstances. Apparently, immigrants were expected to better their impoverished conditions. Certainly, Father and Tateh themselves

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