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Ragtime Essay | Critical Essay #3

This Study Guide consists of approximately 88 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Ragtime.
This section contains 3,413 words
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Critical Essay #3

In the next essay, Gentry interprets Doctorow's symbolic use of the automobile as a way to express individuality, yet still stay within the bounds of societal conventions.

The Model T automobile at the center of E. L. Doctorow's popular novel Ragtime may seem essentially sinister, the product of Henry Ford's assembly- line mentality and of an oppressive myth of American success. Ragtime might then seem the perfect example of a novelistic attack on automobile culture in America. One of Carol Yeh's drawings for the illustrated Bantam edition of Ragtime could be seen as expressing this view: Harry Houdini is bound and chained inside automobile tires, from which he will presumably make one of his not-quite-satisfying escapes. The novel's statement that Houdini never damages or unlocks the enchaining materials from which he releases himself could be taken as confirmation that the societal forces embodied in an automobile are unchanged...

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This section contains 3,413 words
(approx. 12 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Ragtime Study Guide
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Ragtime from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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