Ragtime

by: E. L. Doctorow

Mother's Younger Brother

The story of Mother's Younger Brother and his involvement with Coalhouse has universal relevance. Like many others throughout history, Mother's Younger Brother is a young, idealistic male with little direction in life. However, when he joins Coalhouse's group of revolutionaries, he finally feels as if his life contains a sense of purpose. Doctorow writes, "They believed they were going to die in a spectacular manner. This belief produced in them a dramatic, exalted self-awareness. Younger Brother was totally integrated in their community. He was one of them. He awoke every day into a state of solemn joy." However, Mother's Younger Brother ultimately meets his death while engaged in such an idealistic battle. In this manner, Doctorow conveys the notion that such a wholehearted commitment may also prove painful for both the young revolutionary himself and those closest to him.