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Word Count: 412
In literature one character can impact the entire story and all of its characters Such is the case with Coalhouse Walker Jr in EL Doctrows Ragtime His characterization provides insight into race relations in turn-of-the-century America Many characters react strongly to his mannerisms as they believe his social standing does not allow for such behavior Because Coalhouse conducts himself with a sense of pride unusual of African Americans at this point in history his view of how he should be treated repeatedly come into direct contradiction with others He then represents all African Americans who oppose the expectations many whites have of them Coalhouse Walker is the most essential character in Ragtime because he deeply affects the plot and all other characters Coalhouse most deeply influences Mothers Younger Brother a young fundamentalist with little objective in life However when he joins Coalhouses group of revolutionaries he feels as if his life contains purpose This concept creates a dramatic exalted self-awareness Younger Brother was at last part of a community However Mothers Younger Brother ultimately meets his death while pledged in such an idealistic battle He begins a new way of life based on Coalhouses ideals and encounters a rebirth of his soul However this new way of life conflicts with that of his parents thus he finds it necessary to depart from them and live his life independently This is all under Coalhouses influence and guidance Coalhouse Walker has a grave impact on Father and Mother Initially Mother is shocked that he does not act like other African-Americans but more like a Caucasian gentleman Father stumped by Coalhouses proud behavior concludes that he is not conscious of his racial inferiority Mothers feelings towards her husband begin to deteriorate after this conversation At a later point when Coalhouse takes over the firehouse Father as usual putting business before family rushes off to New York City thus leaving Mother to fall in love with Tateh In Ragtime
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