Ragtime Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What plea does Shaw's mother want him to make in court but he flatly refuses?

2. What stories does Grandfather tell The Boy?

3. Why is the girl tied by a rope to the old man's wrists?

4. Where does The Boy get some of Tateh's silhouettes?

5. What was a popular type of entertainment show in those days?

Short Essay Questions

1. What idea does Tateh have that makes them money.

2. What does Tateh notice about The Girl on their train trip.

3. What is Father's condition when he returns form the Arctic?

4. What sight as they sail out of New York Harbor depresses Father?

5. What does The Boy recover from the trash?

6. What crime is Harry K. Shaw accused of committing?

7. Explain how Harry K. Shaw gets to see Harry Houdini.

8. What is Perry's attitude towards the Esquimo people?

9. What does Evelyn see when she goes with Tateh to a socialist meeting?

10. What causes Harry K. Shaw to propose marriage to Evelyn Nesbit?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Write about Harry Houdini's fixation on finding a way to communicate with his dead mother. The attachment of Houdini to his mother is a documented fact. He also spent the rest of his life looking for someone who could make contact with the dead. In the process he became an authority on fakes and charlatans who claimed special powers to channel the dead. In your paper, explain why you think Doctorow used Houdini as a major character in the book? Point out the societal changes that were happening at that time that Houdini symbolizes.

Essay Topic 2

Write a paper explaining the difference between an anarchist and a socialist. These strange bedfellows come together in the meeting Tateh takes Evelyn to. Anarchists oppose any form of government and socialists promote total government control. Explain why Tateh did not agree with anarchism or communism. Why was he a socialist? Then decide if his later affluence changed his political ideas and why.

Essay Topic 3

Look up information of Theodore Dreiser and write about his impact on the American novel. It is interesting that Doctorow chooses Dreiser to put in his book. It might be a message about his own feelings about book critics. Dreiser was never recognized in his own time for the quality of his novels. Perhaps his most famous novel, AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY, was made into a movie in the 1950s called A PLACE IN THE SUN. What is your opinion about why Doctorow chose this novelist to include briefly in RAGTIME.

(see the answer keys)

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