Theme Of Racism In Ragtime

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Doctorow develops the theme of racism in Ragtime because of Coalhouse 's situation, the way society views the situation, and the way the situation alludes to an American belief. Racism is developed through the events surrounding Coalhouse because the vandalizing of his car was the result of him being an African American. Coalhouse is a very successful musician who is well off; however, in the eyes of the white society, he is still inferior and denied the justice he deserves. This view of African Americans actually existed in American History, as seen in the Ku Klux Klan. During the same time as the novel, KKK harassed innocent African Americans because of a white superiority complex. Racism is developed throughout the novel because of the justice …show more content…
Around the same time as Ragtime was set, the Ku Klux Klan was reviving. The Klan began reviving after racist films like Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915), which “fed prejudice with its celebration of the Klan and its demeaning depiction of blacks”(A People and a Nation: A History of the United States). “Between 1914 and 1920, 382 blacks were lynched, some of them in military uniform”(A People and a Nation: A History of the United States). The new Ku Klux Klan went beyond targeting blacks; however, it broadened its message of hate to include Catholics, Jews, and foreigners. The Klan promoted white superiority and patriotism (Pbs.org). The Ku Klux Klan worked to keep African Americans and “inferior” people in subjection. In order to do so, the Klan would harass inferior peoples, such as African Americans, by raping and beating them. Doctorow alludes to the Ku Klux Klan in Ragtime because white men based on him being African American harass Coalhouse. The firemen had no reason to vandalize Coalhouse’s property; however, they did so because they felt like Coalhouse was inferior to them, which gave them justification to target him. The firemen mirror the beliefs of the Ku Klux Klan because they harassed a man solely based on his race. The firemen’s representation of American beliefs develops racism because they harassed a man based on his race, which is exactly what the Ku Klux Klan

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