Course Hero Logo
Literature Study GuidesRagtimePart 1 Chapter 12 Summary

Ragtime | Study Guide

E. L. Doctorow

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Ragtime Study Guide." Course Hero. 13 Mar. 2017. Web. 27 Jan. 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, March 13). Ragtime Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "Ragtime Study Guide." March 13, 2017. Accessed January 27, 2023.


Course Hero, "Ragtime Study Guide," March 13, 2017, accessed January 27, 2023,

Ragtime | Part 1, Chapter 12 | Summary



At the same time, Tateh and The Little Girl are traveling by train across the United States. Tateh has no idea where they are headed but knows he wants to get as far away from New York as he can, believing New York has "ruined his life." Although desperately poor, Tateh and The Little Girl travel happily, meeting many kind people who help them along the way. He takes pride in his family's appearance, always trying to look their best, despite their circumstances.


Tateh runs away from New York and Evelyn because he feels as if his life is "desecrated by whores." He feels as offended by Evelyn's history as he did the news of his wife's "prostitution." Both women are victims of sexual abuse yet Tateh—and many men at the time—hold the women themselves responsible. Unlike Evelyn's mother, Tateh seeks to protect his daughter from the "evils" of sexuality, running away to restart his life. Ragtime is concerned with the "ownership" of people, as seen in Mother's relationship with Sarah and Evelyn's relationship with The Little Girl, for example. Protecting The Little Girl's innocence is another example of Tateh taking ownership of her life, as first suggested by tying her possessively to the clothesline. He makes the large-scale decisions that affect her life without consultation, such as tearing her away from Evelyn, with whom she has bonded, and moving her across the country. Emanating the resilient "immigrant spirit," Tateh leaves behind a destitute existence with the belief he can create something better through hard work and perseverance. Notably, on the train is the first time the reader sees The Little Girl show emotion. "The Little Girl could not wait for the speed to be up. Tateh realized she was happy. She loved the trip. Holding the suitcase on his lap with just one arm Tateh put the other around his child. He found himself smiling."

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Ragtime? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!