Ragtime

by: E. L. Doctorow

Mother's Younger Brother

Characters 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.