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155 Mask of an Ibis
 

Foundations of America

QU201 Prof. Scott Leone

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Home Ragtime Articles of Interest 155 Mask of an Ibis

155 Mask of an Ibis

E.L. Doctrow refers to the mask of an ibis in chapter twenty-one of Ragtime; however, imagining the scene in the story can be rather difficult without prior knowledge of the animal disguise. An ibis is a long-legged bird originating from the Threskiornithidae family.The derivation of the word “ibis” comes from the ancient Egyptians, in which the creature serves as a prominent object of religious worship. Specifically, the ibis held great value to the ancient Egyptians because the appearance of the deity, Thoth, depicted a man with the head of an ibis. The ibis is widely known for its long and curved bill, in which they use the extended beak to gather food.

Thoth - The God of Wisdom

The boy is briefly mentioned in Ragtime after E.L. Doctrow exemplifies the influence of ancient Egyptian culture during the Progressive Era. Although Father finds the subject matter foul, the boy is inspired by   the civilization and begins learning the hieroglyphic alphabet. Moreover, the boy can be seen paying homage to the ancient Egyptian deity, Thoth, by walking around the house in a mask of an ibis. E.L. Doctrow illustrates the scene, “Unaware, she [the black woman] sat in her room by the window, while he [the boy] passed her door in a beaked papier-mâché mask of an ibis which he made himself” (Doctrow 155).

A Mask of an Ibis


Sources:

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/White_Ibis/id

http://www.egyptartsite.com/thoth.html

Ragtime by E.L. Doctrow

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 September 2011 15:47  

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