1.What is the occasion? The occasion in E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime, occurs when Harry Houdini ‘s car breaks down in front of the little boy’s home. The little boy appreciates his flexible ability to escape, from deadly situations (except when being buried alive and they had to dig him out). The reason that his arrival precipitates the work, is because there after, the plot starts to branch off into to explaining the lives of several others in New York City. This includes the Jewish family of Mameh, Tateh and the little girl and the discovery of Sarah’s little girl. Eventually each individual story ties in with each others, and all of a sudden theses stranger’s lives with each other become relevant.
2. Major and Minor Characters: The little boy: The little boy is actually the narrator of the novel, but refers to himself as the little boy in the novel. He is the son of Mother and Father, is very observant of his life’s surrounding. He comes from an immigrant family, and befriends Sha. Mother: Is married to father at the beginning of the novel and sympathetic almost pitiful of her younger brother over the course of his stay with them in New Rochelle. Her marriage with Father is merely held together by sex. She is also responsible for finding Sarah’s child, and ends up taking care of both Sarah and the child. She becomes increasingly distant from her husband when she becomes heavily involved with Coalhouse and Sarah. In the end, she is married to Tateh after Father dies. Father: Father is an immigrant man, and has a hobby of exploring the places of the world, exhibited by his expedition to the Artic at the beginning of the novel. His real profession is that of a business owner which produces patriotic products such as flags and banners. His marriage with mother was held together by his long outings during expeditions as well as sex, but when he returns home he feels isolated; representing feelings of most immigrants. He eventually dies on the tragic sinking of the Lusitania (The sinking of a civilian/passenger ship in WWI by German U boats.) Harry Houdini: A famous escape artist whose car break’s down in front of the family’s home. He is known to have a strong but slightly short stature. He learns to fly a plane, and even flew a plane for Archeduke Ferdinand. He continues to perform escape routine but becomes depressed from the loss of his mother and starts into looking intoresearcing communicating with dead. Oddlt enough it is this that brings him joy opposed to the depression he feels Mother’s Younger Brother: He lives with the family in New Rochelle New York and has an infatuation for Evelyn Nesbit so strong that he follows her around. He also seems to be pro social reform in America and is very active in it. This is shown through his supportive protests as well as during Coalhouse’s cause. Evelyn Nesbit: The ex-wife of Harry K. Thaw who is known to have a pass relationship with Stanford White. She is a young and refined woman, and engages in observing the lower class and their cause. She eventually has a little fling, after an engagement with her old friend Emma Goldman. Eventually she disappears. Stanford White: An New York Architect who was murdered by Harry K. Thaw. Is seen to have a pass with Evelyn Nesbit starting from when she was a teenager. Harry K. Thaw: Evelyn’s ex-husband, after their divorce is signed. He Kills Stanford White, and upon trial eventually escapes jail and commits more violent crimes everywhere he goes. Fortunately he is eventually arrested again. Mameh: The wife of Tateh and mother of Sha. She was an modest and shy women, but was victim to her family’s needs; so much that she was targeted by her employer for sexual acts in order to gain more generous money for her family. She did this because her daughter was no longer allowed to work in the textile mills because she was forced in to school, and there could not pay their dues. In…