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Literature Study GuidesRagtimePart 2 Chapter 24 Summary

Ragtime | Study Guide

E. L. Doctorow

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Ragtime | Part 2, Chapter 24 | Summary



A depressed Younger Brother searches for ways to keep his mind off of his broken heart. All the while, his desire to find meaning or create a legacy (like many other characters in the novel) grows, as does his disdain for quiet, domestic life. "He despised [Father and Mother]. He thought they were complacent, ordinary and inconsiderate. He feels rage over the way Coalhouse has been treated but recognizes it is "one-hundreth" of the rage Coalhouse must feel. At dinner one evening, Father suggests that rather than continuing to fight the firemen for their mistreatment, Coalhouse should have simply dropped the matter. Younger Brother's rage boils over and he snaps, "You speak like a man who has never been tested in his principals," much to everyone's surprise.


Younger Brother continues to search for ways to cope with his broken heart. Now he knows Evelyn can't heal him, and Coalhouse's altercation with the Fire Chief unleashes a "rage" inside him. This will become the outlet for his unprocessed emotions. Readers first see Younger Brother's fiery temper when he snaps at Father for insinuating Coalhouse should have dropped the fight over his car. Younger Brother says Father speaks like a man who has "never been tested in his principals," as if Younger Brother himself has been so tested. Slowly the reader sees Younger Brother growing into the man who will use his ideals and knowledge of explosives to aid Mexican revolutionaries at the end of the novel.

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