Asked by GeneralStrawMole57
Hi, I'm writing an essay on the novel Ragtime about the theme of...
Hi, I'm writing an essay on the novel Ragtime about the theme of injustice. I had to relate the novel to a current New York Times Article. If you had any tips or improvements for my essay it would be really helpful. Here it is:
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" - Martin Luther King Jr. The novel Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow develops the theme of racism and injustice by showing a biased world where people could die due to their skin color. However, during this time period, many citizens ignored the fact that racism was an issue. Furthermore, when Coalhouse encountered racism, Mother and Father told him to move on from the situation. In addition, the article "A Jane Austen Museum Wants to Discuss Slavery. Will Her Fans Listen?" by Jenny Gross relates to Ragtime as it shows how people today want to ignore the history of slavery. Overall, Doctorow showed the traumatic effects of ignoring the issue of racism, yet it still occurs today.
Doctorow exemplifies racial injustice through the character Coalhouse Walker and the problematic situations he encounters. When Coalhouse came across racist firefighters who destroyed his car, he wanted the damage paid for and an apology. Yet, numerous people told Coalhouse to forget about the entire situation and move on. Even when the Chief sees what his workers have done, he tries to sweep the case under the rug and says, "There's no real damage. Scrape off the shit and forget the whole thing"(Doctorow 178). Similarly, when the museum, Jane's Austen House, claimed they were adding history about slavery to their exhibit, many people wanted to ignore the past and not discuss it. The article "A Jane Austen Museum Wants to Discuss Slavery. Will Her Fans Listen?" by Jenny Gross portrays, "The Express called the decision "woke madness," while The Daily Mail said it was "a revisionist attack" and a "BLM-inspired interrogation" of the author's love for drinking tea"(New York Times). It's important to address conflicts within society because the issues won't go away if you choose to ignore them. When Coalhouse described his problem, Doctorow explained, "Mother said Mr. Walker, I am ashamed that this community is represented in your mind by that bunch of toughs. Father said The company has a bad reputation"(179). However, if Coalhouse had listened to Mother and Father and ignored what the firemen did to him, he would've been giving up his pride and admitting that racism is accepted. In addition, if the Jane Austen Museum ignores the history of the slave trade, they would be sending a message that racism and slavery are not important enough to talk about. Overall, we need to discuss these issues, even if it's uncomfortable, to make sure history doesn't repeat itself.
In contrast, some characters in Ragtime wanted to talk about Coalhouse's situation and some people in the article expressed that they felt the slave trade should be discussed. Although Mother and Father tried to suppress the problem, Mother's Younger Brother felt enthralled by it. While Mother and Father were making submissive remarks to Coalhouse, Doctorow describes Mother's Younger Brother and says, "He leaned forward, totally engaged by the problem. Where is the car now? He said. And what about those two boys? They are witnesses for you"(179). Younger Brother, and other people who Coalhouse rallies together later in the novel, are not afraid to speak out against injustice. Even though it would be much easier for everyone involved if Coalhouse stopped his protests, it would be admitting defeat to the fight for justice. In the article, the founder and president of the Republic of Pemberley, Myretta Robens, said she was fine with the museum adding context about the slave trade. Yet, she also entailed, "She did not, however, want discussion of race and current events to spill into the group's conversations about Austen's novels, and she said she had quashed a few heated debates"(New York Times). Although learning about Jane Austen may not be the best time to debate over racial issues, I think people must discuss it. Robens want to avoid conflict, but without conflict, there would be no change, and change is needed to progress our society.
Unfortunately, injustice is a timeless issue within our society. As shown in Ragtime, Coalhouse is told to suppress his feelings and ignore the racism occurring around him. As shown in the article, people today still want to ignore the history of racism as the Jane Austen Museum is hesitant to share history about the slave trade. Nobody wants to start conflict, but conflict is what we need in order to make a change. People in the 1900s, and unfortunately in the present, die due racist encounters. We need to speak up about these problematic issues to "create a" (was giving an honor code error thats why its in quotes) solution.
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