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Literature Study GuidesRagtimePart 2 Chapter 22 Summary

Ragtime | Study Guide

E. L. Doctorow

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Ragtime | Part 2, Chapter 22 | Summary



Younger Brother resumes his trips to New York. He is still hung up on Evelyn yet he doesn't know where to find her. He meets army officers and discusses weaponry with them. Later, after lurking outside and being mistaken for a spy, he is invited into a political vigil where Emma Goldman is speaking. Younger Brother is desperate to speak to Goldman about Evelyn, but she is distracted hosting Mexican Revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. After the speeches, Goldman invites some of the guests to her home for a party. There she tells Younger Brother it's no good pining after Evelyn, and he should do something better with his life than nurse a broken heart. As he leaves the party, Younger Brother feels inspired, yet outside he considers throwing himself onto the train tracks.


Younger Brother has matured from a gentle, quiet youth to a heartsick man. His broken heart is an impetus to do something with his life, to channel all his depressed energy into something else. He hopes to heal his pain in Evelyn's arms but Emma puts a stop to his fantasy. "You would destroy each other inside of a year. You would see her begin to turn old and bored under your very eyes. You would sit across the dinner table from each other in bondage, in terrible bondage to what you thought was love." Younger Brother knows this is the truth but he doesn't know where to place his heartsick energy. At the end of the chapter his anger is still turned inward, and he considers suicide. Later, he learns to channel the anger outward, having been swayed by Goldman's strong political rhetoric, the passion of the Mexican Revolutionary, and his keen ability to manufacture weapons.

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