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 is worrying Mother back in New Rochelle?

2. What is a theme established in the first two chapters?

3. What does Evelyn hope for in her husband's trial?

4. Why is Houdini brooding while walking the streets of New York?

5. What was Freud's judgment about America?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does The boy see Mother do in the back garden?

2. Why is Emma Goldman arrested after Coalhouse takes over the museum?

3. What plans do Father and Mother make to get away from the Coalhouse problem?

4. Describe Morgan's buildings on Madison Avenue in Murray Hill.

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

6. What remarkable innovation in manufacturing took place about this time?

7. How do the police learn about the history of Coalhouse Walker, Jr.?

8. What does Morgan think about making automobiles available to the masses?

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

10. What are Tateh's plans for him and The Girl as they leave New York?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

Write a paper about class distinctions in the novel. Examine the fixation Americans had on Europeans and whether it still exists today. [Compare to America's fixation on the late Princess Diana.] Use the arrival of Freud and Young as one example and Mother's preference for the Europeans at Atlantic City as another. Show how that also influences Tateh to adopt the persona of Baron Ashkenazy.

Essay Topic 2

Coalhouse Walker, Jr., plays Scott Joplin ragtime in the novel. Do some research and write a brief paper about the composer Scott Joplin. Why does Doctorow use the musical genre as the title of his book? To what extent do you think the music of an era defines that era?

Essay Topic 3

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.

(see the answer keys)

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