Ragtime Essay

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David J. Kelly is a literature and creative writing instructor at several colleges in Illinois. In the following essay, he examines the relatively minor role that death plays in Ragtime and finds it to be a function of Doctorow's ability to create characters.

Steeped as it is in the past, slowed by the lazy, dreamy tone of things half-remembered, or halfforgotten, or only once implied, Ragtime doesn't impress one as a book about lives hanging in the balance. Oh, life is in it, and one comes away from reading the last pages with the feeling of having wandered through not just a few lives. But maybe as a result of the dreamy tone or maybe as the cause of it, life does not seem to be counterbalanced with its opposite. It isn't that characters in the book live forever, or that they can only be gotten rid of...

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This section contains 1,730 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Ragtime Study Guide
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Ragtime from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.