• Alone at Home: Alienation in Ragtime

      Quinton, Rachel; Department of English & Foreign Languages (2017-03)
      This analysis looks at E.L. Doctorow's novel, Ragtime. Throughout the work, Doctorow hints at the blurring of belonging in reality in Pre-World War I America, resulting in alienation. Using a Marxist and Postmodernism lens, this essay focuses on alienation that functions on two levels - the dissociation of the individual from social belonging and through a coercive superstructure of media that separates characters from historical reality. The characters in Ragtime, both in the central family and outside, can identify with at least one level of alienation. By observing the characters through these lenses, it becomes apparent how they are shaped by their alienation. In this context the characters within the novel Ragtime serve as an example of alienation manifested through a dissociation from reality and organized by a coercive media beholden to a capital economic pressure. This observation highlights the value of identity and how the media can affect the way others look at "the reality" behind such identities. It also considers the extent of how media integrates itself into daily life and how this influence is controlled by the base of all society: the economy. Doctorow's book suggests there is a separation of truth from media, and reality from identity.