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. Why does Evelyn call the old man Tateh?

2. The winter The Boy was skating on the pond, where were Tateh and The Girl?

3. As the strike wears on, what is being done for the children?

4. What was Freud's judgment about America?

5. At the jail called The Tombs, what do the guards invent?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

3. What is it that Evelyn Nesbit does not understand when she sees The Girl tied to her father?

4. What infatuation comes over Mother's Younger brother?

5. What is the nature of Evelyn's testimony in Harry's trial?

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

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

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

9. Who are the famous psychologists who visit New York at this time and what is their reaction?

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

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 your opinion of E. L. Doctorow's writing style. Include such things as his omitting quotation marks and writing in very short sentences. Cite specific passages in the novel that you think either did or did not convey (1) the feeling of the characters, (2) the imagery of the day, (3) the suspense of the plot, or any other concept you feel the novel addresses. How much does Doctorow's use of fictionalized real characters add to the interest of the novel?

Essay Topic 3

Describe the rags-to-riches story of Tateh, aka Baron Ashkenazy. Tateh's story is the embodiment of the American dream--the poor immigrant who eventually achieves success. While you write this account focus on the moral shift in Tateh's thinking. Note the difference in his uptight morality that drove his wife and Evelyn away in the early part of the story and his romping with Mother in Atlantic City as the reinvented Baron Ashkenazy. There are even sexual overtones to the scene where they are searching for The Boy and The Girl and eventually they marry.

(see the answer keys)

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