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 does Father manufacture?

2. What does Tateh have that finally makes them money?

3. From where does the North Pole expedition set off?

4. What do Mother, The Boy, and Younger Brother do in the winter time?

5. Where does the story of RAGTIME begin?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does The Boy recover from the trash?

2. What does Younger Brother do for a political rally in Rye, New York?

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

4. What does the Franklin Novelty Company do with Tateh's books?

5. How is Father sent off on his trip with the Perry expedition to the North Pole?

6. What is the gossip about Evelyn's disappearances to visit The Girl?

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

8. Why does socialite Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish bring Houdini and circus freaks to her house?

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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.

Essay Topic 2

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 3

Write about how Doctorow uses The Boy and The Girl to represent change in the novel. Perhaps because he is a young boy when the novel begins wearing sailor suits and grows into the beginnings of young manhood where he discovers girls, change is most noticeable in The Boy. When they meet in Atlantic City, neither of them recall looking eye-to-eye years ago on the street in New Rochelle. Tateh first becomes aware of The Girl's maturation on the train trip out of New York. Show how this growing up process works as a good benchmark for the passing of time in the novel.

(see the answer keys)

This section contains 717 words
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