Essay on A Period of Progressivism and Improvement

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During the 1890’s and the 1920’s, the United States went through a period of progressivism and improvement called the Progressive Era. The Progressive Era was a period in attempt to improve problems carried by The Gilded Age such as child labor, poor living conditions, rise of monopolies, and political corruption. The progressives arose and consisted of America’s middle. Doctorow’s Ragtime successfully utilizes fictional characters in order to symbolize the occurrences of the Progressive Era. Doctorow portrays and reflects this era by using the characters of father and mother to symbolize the typical middle class family who felt the need to help lower classes and the rise of self-sufficiency, Sarah to symbolized race differences, and Tateh …show more content…
Women began to become more self-sufficient the Progressive Era even brings about the idea of the “New Woman”. Most women would manage the household when the husband was gone. Women began to be more involved in the community leading to the fight for Women’s right and the ratification of the 19th amendment. In Ragtime, Doctorow demonstrated this by demonstrating the self sufficiency of mother when Father leaves. Mother begins to become involved in the community by helping Sarah and being able to run and maintain the household when her husband was gone. However, not everyone reacted positively to these changes. Doctorow shows this by utilizing father. Father begins to become upset when he returns and realizes the enjoyment mother finds in her freedom and how well able she was to maintain well while he was gone in contrary of before he left, when she was more submissive to him. “Father, sensitive to every change, found his appetite diminished” (Doctorow 117). Father is used in the novel in order to represent the indifference a lot of American felt towards these changes.
Sarah is used by Doctorow to portray gender differences in the Progressive Era. Even though many blacks strived to fight for equal

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