Vulnerability And Acting: Stimulus and Response in Doctorow’s Ragtime


Almost all of E. L. Doctorow’s characters in Ragtime suffer from a certain degree of vulnerability, a state of great weakness, fragility, wound or harm that cues them to act in such a manner that is analogous to acting on stage or in cinema. This profuse use of the world-theater analogy allied with vulnerability helps us understand Ragtime, which reviews the most significant and dramatic events in America’s last hundred years or so. These events have spawned vulnerability that affected the life of Doctorow’s characters so profoundly that different types of personas emerged. In my paper an attempt is made to understand how the roles of these personas arose, what Doctorow tries to discover through the medium of acting, how it is associated with vulnerability. In addition, I will study how acting and vulnerability interact with the structure and the narrative technique hoping to provide novel perceptions into Doctorow’s novel.

Keywords: Modern American fiction; Jewish American fiction; E. L. Doctorow; Ragtime; Vulnerability; Acting; Personas

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 11-26 (Download PDF)

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