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116 Stories of Transformation
 

Foundations of America

QU201 Prof. Scott Leone

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Home Ragtime Articles of Interest 116 Stories of Transformation

116 Stories of Transformation

Grandfather “...would sit in the parlor and tell the boys stories from Ovid.  They were stories of people who became animals or trees or statues.  They were stories of transformation.  Woman turned into sunflowers, spiders, bats, birds; men turned into snakes, pigs, stones, or even thin air.”

Ovid wrote about metamorphoses and gods changing the physical appearance of humans into other things.  He uses literal and figurative metamorphoses to describe his characters.  The talk of this other-worldly talent directly precedes Doctorow’s explanation of the little boy's “telekinetic” powers.  Among these powers he can move things with his mind, and he seems to be able to see things differently than “natural” people, which is the premise for a lot of the stories in Ovid's books.

The Grandfather in Ragtime is described as a older man who was "very thin and stooped, and he emitted a mildewed smell, possibly because he had few clothes and refused to buy or accept anything new."  It seems that to grandfather these "stories of transformation" were merely stories, whereas the little boys "accepted the stories as images of truth" that things in the world could be changed and warped to your own needs.

After hearing stories of this transformation from grandfather the little boy realizes that he has special powers.  On the next page Doctorow says "He could look at the hairbrush on the bureau and it would sometimes slide off the edge and fall to the floor.  If he raised the window in his room it might shut itself at the moment he though the room was getting cold."  Leading up to this point in the book the little boy has been described as reclusive and strange.  Now it is clear that through the stories of transformation that Grandfather tells of that the boy has special "supernatural" powers, like the ones of the Gods in Ovid's Metamorphoses.



http://larryavisbrown.homestead.com/files/xeno.ovid1.htm

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 September 2011 21:23  

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