full title · Ragtime
author · Edgar Lawrence Doctorow
type of work · Novel
genre · Historical fiction; national bildungsroman
language · English
time and place written · United States, 1970s
date of first publication · 1975
publisher · Random House
narrator · Anonymous and omniscient. The narrative voice is ambiguous. Perhaps it is the little boy at a later point; perhaps it is Tateh's little girl; perhaps it is both of them.
point of view · This novel is narrated in the third person omniscient; occasionally the narrator speaks in the first person plural.
tone · Ironic, rhetorical
tense · Past and present
setting (time) · From 1900 to 1917
setting (place) · New York City; New Rochelle, New York; Lawrence, Massachusetts; the pyramids of Egypt
protagonist · The role of the protagonist is shared by all the main characters.
major conflict · Coalhouse Walker attempts to execute a revolution, while Father and his family react to the changing times.
rising action · Father's voyage to the North Pole; Conklin's damage of Coalhouse Walker's car
climax · Coalhouse's seizure of the Morgan residence
falling action · Coalhouse's death
themes · The Difficulty of Accepting Change; The Struggle for Stability and Meaning; The Impact of Technological Development on Culture; Imprisonment and False Liberation
motifs · The Nature of Historical Truth; The Motion Picture and Photography; The Ambiguity of the Narrative Voice
symbols · Coalhouse Walker; Father; Evelyn Nesbit
foreshadowing · In the first chapter, the description of Father's family in New Rochelle has a certain tentative, precarious quality that foreshadows he subsequent shocks they will experience.