How Does Cora Change In The Underground Railroad Book Review? (The answer is found)

Where did Cora go on the Underground Railroad?

  • The Underground Railroad was an interesting look inside slave girl Cora’s horrific journey to find freedom. Starting in slave state Georgia, she travels to South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana and finally The North. This book is more of a character study in a story designed to enlighten us with the horrors of slavery.

What happened to Cora on the Underground Railroad?

Cora is a slave on a plantation in Georgia and an outcast after her mother Mabel ran off without her. She resents Mabel for escaping, although it is later revealed that her mother tried to return to Cora but died from a snake bite and never reached her. Caesar approaches Cora about a plan to flee.

Who is Cora in Underground Railroad?

Cora in Amazon’s The Underground Railroad is played by South African actress Thuso Mbedu. Thuso Nokwanda Mbedu was born on 8 July 1991 in Pelham, the South African borough of Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. Mbedu was raised by her grandmother, who was her legal guardian after both of her parents died at an early age.

How does Cora resist dehumanization?

Classroom Activity List all the ways that Cora resists the dehumanization of enslavement. Consider her ownership of the plot of land, her friendships with the Hob women, her insistence on confronting danger, her pursuit of literacy, and other examples.

What happens to Cora and Caesar in Underground Railroad?

The end of the second episode pictures him in the underground rail network helping Cora to run away but his demeanor looked mythical. Cora later learns that Caesar was captured by Ridgeway and killed by the mob. Cora, however, hoped for his return, until the end.

What did Cora see in the swamp?

When she gets to a swamp—the same swamp we saw Cora and Caesar in, where Cora watched the snake capture a frog —Mabel wades in, the camera tracking her as she goes. But then suddenly, she stops in her tracks; the camera keeps moving, then tracks back to her.

How did Cora get away from Ridgeway?

Ridgeway took Cora’s escape from the Randall plantation personally. Her mother, Mabel, had been the only slave to get away, and he wanted to make sure that didn’t happen with Cora. It turned out that Mabel met a sad fate in her unintended (without Cora, anyway) escape.

Who was Cora Randall?

Cora Einterz Randall is an atmospheric scientist known for her research on particles in the atmosphere, particularly in polar regions.

How did Cora escape?

Ridgeway captures Cora, who leads him to the abandoned railroad station. She escapes along the tracks and emerges days later, accepting a ride from a wagon driver headed west.

How does Cora describe the hob?

Throughout her journey to freedom, Cora carries the spirit of Hob with her, which encourages her to be brave, rebellious, and fierce.

What was the Underground Railroad book reading level?

ISBN-10: 0395979153. Reading Level: Lexile Reading Level 1240L. Guided Reading Level V.

The Biggest Differences Between The Underground Railroad and the Book It’s Based On

Slate provided the photo illustration. Kyle Kaplan/Amazon Studios provided the image. The Underground Railroad, a Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of the 2016 novel by Colson Whitehead, will be available on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, according to the company. Abolitionist author Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award–winning novel follows Cora, a former enslaved woman who flees from a plantation in Georgia and makes her way north using an actual underground railroad system complete with underground tunnels and locomotives, as well as stations and conductors.

The actual railroad isn’t the only thing that contributes to Whitehead’s novel’s ability to take a skewed view of United States history.

In South Carolina, white folks who are committed to “uplift” coexist among liberated people while harboring heinous hidden motivations.

Hoosier free Black people dwell in enclaves around Indiana, where they live in an uncomfortable state of reconciliation with their white neighbors.

The following are some of the most significant changes between the book and the program.

Caesar and Royal

Despite a few possibilities for love, Cora manages to stay out of romantic relationships in the story. Her experience of being (she believes) abandoned by her mother, as well as her general sense of captivity, appears to have left her unwilling to pursue romantic relationships. In the novel, Caesar, who begs Cora to accompany him on his voyage away from the plantation, thus beginning her adventure, is portrayed as a brother and comrade rather than as a lover. Cora’s roommates in the South Carolina dormitory taunt her about him, but he ends up with another lady instead of teasing her about him.

  • While Cora is fleeing South Carolina when Ridgeway, the slave catcher, captures her and sends her back on the run, she is concerned about Caesar’s chance of arrest, reasoning that if she had “made him her lover,” they would at the very least be captured together.
  • She had strayed from the road of life at some point in the past and was unable to find her way back to the family of people.” In the second episode of the sitcom, Cora falls in love with Caesar, who is played by Aaron Pierre.
  • He approaches her and asks her to be his wife; she doesn’t say no.
  • Besides Ridgeway, Cora has another love interest on the program in Royal, a freeborn man and railroad conductor who saves her from the latter and transports her to the Valentine winery in Indiana, where a group of free Black people live in community.

When he passes away, they are the memories she will hold onto, along with her recollections of Caesar on the dance floor with her friends.

Grace and Molly

Both the novel and the program are examinations of the maternal instinct, as well as the ways in which enslavers play on and frustrate that impulse, in order to control and harm their victims. Cora herself falls prey to this dynamic early in the novel, when she instinctively saves Chester, an enslaved youngster she’s been caring for, from a beating by the plantation’s owner, who is also a victim of the dynamic. He hits both her and Chester as reprisal, punishing both the protector and those who have been protected.

The first, Fanny (who does not appear in the novel), is a character who lives in the attic crawl space where Cora hides during the episode that takes place in North Carolina.

The second, Molly, is the daughter of Sybil, with whom Cora shares a cabin when she stays at the Valentine winery with her mother.

Molly, on the other hand, is a sign of optimism for the future in the episode, as she flees the burning Valentine town with Cora, accompanying her into the tunnels and running west.


Jenkins’ adaptation makes a significant change to the narrative of slave catcher Arnold Ridgeway, who is played on the show by Joel Edgerton. A blacksmith is meant to follow in his father’s shoes, but Ridgeway isn’t sure he wants to do it: “He couldn’t turn to the anvil since there was no way he could outshine his father’s brilliance,” the story says. After becoming a patroller at the age of 14 and performing duties such as stopping Black people for passes, raiding “slave villages,” and bringing any Black person who is “wayward” to jail after being flogged, his father is dissatisfied with his son’s performance because he has previously fought with the head patroller.

When Ridgeway’s father appears on the program, Jenkins adds to the character’s past by portraying him as one of the show’s only morally upright white males.

As a result, Ridgeway’s decision to go into slave-catching, which in the novel is portrayed as inevitable, becomes a personal revolt against his father’s ethical worldview.


Mabel’s abandoning of Cora serves as the tragic core of Whitehead’s novel. When Cora thinks about Mabel, she remembers her as a caring and present mother. So why would she abandon her daughter in slavery? In the novel, a sequence of rapes serves as the catalyst for the plot. As a slave to the white overseer (“the master’s eyes and ears over his own kind”), Moses coerces Mabel into having sexual relations with him by appealing to her mother instincts toward Cora, who is 8 years old at the time.

  1. Polly, Mabel’s best friend, is given a larger part in Mabel’s flight in Jenkins’ production.
  2. Polly is married to Moses, and their child is also stillborn; as a result, she is compelled to work as a wet nurse for a set of twins born to an enslaved woman on a neighboring plantation, which is situated in the South of the United States.
  3. It is revealed at the conclusion of both the novel and the show that Mabel is not living in Canada, happy and free while her daughter suffers.
  4. Mabel is arranging her getaway in Whitehead’s novel, bringing food, flint and tinder, and a machete with her, and departing before nightfall.

The protagonist of both stories, Mabel, learns mid-flight that she must return to Cora’s side of the story. The bite of the snake eventually finds her, but it’s too late.

On Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad : Coles’s On Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

AjarrySummary She refuses to accompany Caesar, a new slave on the Randall plantation in Georgia, when he approaches her and offers that she join him in escaping. Three weeks later, when she agrees to go away with Caesar, the narrator claims that this reaction is “her grandma talking.” Three weeks after that, she claims that this response is “her mother talking.” The past of Cora’s grandmother, Ajarry, is discussed in this chapter, as well as how her background has inspired Cora. After being abducted by slavers as a youngster, Ajarry and the rest of her community were taken to a slave camp in the heart of Africa.

  • Upon arrival at the port city of Ouidah (now part of modern-day Benin), Ajarry was separated from the rest of her family and sold into slavery on a different ship.
  • She eventually made her way to the American South, where she was sold a number of times until being purchased by a representative of the Randall plantation in Georgia.
  • Aside from her husband, four of her five children perished as well; Cora’s mother Mabel, was the only one to live past the age of ten.
  • Nonetheless, this focus on the Underground Railroad makes sense in the larger context of the Underground Railroad for a variety of reasons.
  • The material contained in several of these brief character profiles is relevant and has an impact on Cora’s tale in a major way.
  • This first chapter accomplishes both tasks.
See also:  What Role Did Ohio Play In The Underground Railroad? (Professionals recommend)

It seems as though Ajarry’s life has been a series of heartbreaking tragedies after another: the death of her mother, the kidnapping and murder of her father, her own kidnapping by slavers, the separation from family and relatives, failed suicide attempts, being sold repeatedly, the deaths of three husbands and the deaths of four children.

  • Instead, they are succinctly and dispassionately presented in a few few paragraphs.
  • Evil doesn’t require any more embellishment.
  • For the third time in the novel, this chapter emphasizes how important family legacy is as a motif throughout the book.
  • It is “her grandma talking” when she refuses to go away with Caesar; it is “her mother talking” when she accepts Caesar’s invitation to stay with him afterwards.
  • It is possible to connect all of Cora’s dimensions of identity back to her family, including her understanding of herself as an African, as a slave, as a fugitive, as an independent, as an isolated person.
  • When Cora says no to Caesar’s invitation to accompany her on his journey, is it “her grandmother talking” in the traditional sense?
  • She is sold over and over again, she is relocated from place to place, and she loses touch with the majority of the people she cares about.
  • For Ajarry, having a home to call her own — even if it is only a little plot of land — is preferable to the alternatives: death or nothing at all, according to her.
  • This fluctuation heightens the sense of unpredictability that pervades Ajarry’s universe.
  • Human lives are valued at different amounts in different currencies not because the value of humanity fluctuates, but because money is not intended to be a measure of human worth.
  • In fact, the entire work is intentionally imprecise when it comes to specific locales, depending primarily on state names to describe them.

This ambiguity reflects the novel’s wide range of potential applications. Although no specific city is mentioned, it is implied that stories like this one may have occurred anywhere and, indeed, did occur everywhere by the end.

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD Book Club Questions + Reading Guide

Affiliate links are used in this piece of content. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, we may receive a commission. Are you looking for book club questions and a reading plan for The Underground Railroad for your upcoming meeting? There’s no need to look any further.

The Underground Railroad Reading Guide

Affiliate links are used in this article. We may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links. Looking for book club questions and a reading guide for The Underground Railroad for your upcoming meeting? Look no further. Further investigation is not necessary.

The Underground RailroadSummary

Cora, a third-generation slave, is the main character of this novel by Colson Whitehead, which chronicles her journey as she utilizes a genuine (in this world) underground train to escape slavery in Georgia. She’s a social pariah on the plantation, and she’s not happy about it. Caesar, a new slave from Virginia, approaches her and invites her to accompany him on a journey. Cora is hesitant at first, but after another slave is apprehended and horribly beaten for attempting to flee, she agrees to accompany him.

Unusual Suspects is a newsletter that features stories about unusual suspects.

Thank you for taking the time to register!

By registering, you agree to our terms of service.

Themes inThe Underground Railroad

To prepare for the book club questions, let us first discuss some of the major ideas that appear in The Underground Railroad. The idea of survival is one of the most prominent in the novel. After being kidnapped from her home in Africa, Cora’s grandmother, Ajarry, passes on her will to live to Cora’s mother, Mabel. Cora’s own trek north is laden with peril, and it will require tremendous physical and mental strength to make it to the end. Another motif that runs throughout the narrative is dread, which is exacerbated particularly by cruelty.

In addition to violence occurring throughout the novel, the setting is a South Carolina hamlet where physicians are sterilizing women without their permission and purposefully infecting males with syphilis in order to “research” how the disease advances.

The Underground RailroadBook Club Questions

  1. When you first started reading the book, how did your knowledge of slavery in America alter from what you had before? Did it compel you to conduct more study or track down any other accounts of those who managed to flee? A guy is cruelly tortured for attempting to flee, just days before Cora makes the decision to go. What impact does this have on you as a reader? A lot of the scenes on the Randall plantation are rather gruesome in their depictions. Describe why you believe Whitehead chose to include these scenes in the novel. The narrator of The Underground Railroad shifts from one point of view to another. Did witnessing certain episodes from Cora’s point of view, as well as some situations from Ridgeway’s point of view, cause you to modify your mind about one or more of the characters? What do you suppose the author’s motivation was in doing this? What, in your opinion, is the function of storytelling in Cora’s survival? Who knows what happened to the other passengers on the subterranean railroad
  2. Is it possible that Ethel narrating her narrative has changed your image of her? Why do you believe the author opted to utilize magical realism in the form of an actual subterranean railroad? Is it true that Ridgeway purchased Cora a dress and brought her out to supper while she was still in chains? Was there anything startling in The Underground Railroad that you discovered? Were there any unexpected twists and turns in the story
  3. How do you feel about Mabel’s choice to flee the country? How does her character change as you hear the truth about what happened to Cora’s mother? Do you see any current events represented in the novel? I’m curious how you feel about this: “Everything had a value. In America, the peculiarity was that people were objects.” Is it possible that the concept of individuals as property manifests itself in unexpected ways throughout the book? Does this alter your perspective on slavery in the United States? By lulling the reader into a false feeling of security, the author creates an environment of emotional instability for them. What effect does this feeling of dread have on the reading experience

Looking for more general inquiries about The Underground Railroadbook club? Look no further. Starting with 40 people, we’ll see how things go.

The Underground Railroad Reading Group Guide

With these questions about Colson Whitehead’s beautiful novel, you may have a better understanding of the current selection for Oprah’s Book Club. a brief description of this guide The questions, discussion topics, and recommendations for additional reading that follow are intended to improve your group’s discussion of Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad, which is a triumph of a novel in every way. In Regards to This Book Cora is a slave who works on a cotton farm in Georgia as a domestic servant.

  • Following a conversation with Caesar, a recent immigrant from Virginia, about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a scary risk and go to freedom.
  • Despite the fact that they are able to locate a station and go north, they are being pursued.
  • Cora and Caesar’s first stop is in South Carolina, in a place that appears to be a safe haven at first glance.
  • And, to make matters worse, Ridgeway, the ruthless slave collector, is closing the distance between them and freedom.
  • Cora’s voyage is an expedition over time and space, as well as through the human mind.
  • The Underground Railroadis at once a dynamic adventure novel about one woman’s passionate determination to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, dramatic reflection on the past that we all share, according to the author.
  • QuestionAnswer1.How does the portrayal of slavery in The Underground Railroad differ from other depictions in literature and film?
  • The corruption and immoral practices of organizations such as doctor’s offices and museums in North Carolina, which were intended to aid in ‘black uplift,’ were exposed.
  • 4.Cora conjures up intricate daydreams about her existence as a free woman and devotes her time to reading and furthering her educational opportunities.
  • What role do you believe tales play in Cora’s and other travelers’ experiences on the underground railroad, in your opinion?

The use of a formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formal “It goes without saying that the underground railroad was the hidden treasure.

  • Some would argue that freedom is the most valuable coin on the planet.” What impact does this quote have on your interpretation of the story?
  • 7, How did John Valentine’s vision for the farm affect your perceptions of the place?
  • Only youngsters were able to take full advantage of their ability to dream.
  • 9.What are your thoughts about Terrance Randall’s ultimate fate?
  • What effect does learning about Cora’s mother’s fate have on your feelings for Cora’s mother?
  • What effects does this feeling of dread have on you while you’re reading?
  • 13.How does the state-by-state organization of the book affect your comprehension?

14.The book underlines how slaves were considered as property and were reduced to the status of things in their own right.

15.Can you explain why you believe the author opted to depict an actual railroad?

Does The Underground Railroad alter your perspective on American history, particularly during the era of slavery and anti-slavery agitators like Frederick Douglass?

He resides in New York City, where he is a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and a winner of MacArthur and Guggenheim scholarships.

Sag Harbor was written by Colson Whitehead.

Yaa Gyasi’s departure from home Naomi Jackson’s The Star Side of Bird Hill is a novel about a young woman who falls in love with a star. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift Jonathan Swift is a British novelist and playwright who lives in the United Kingdom.

Review: Whitehead’s ‘Underground Railroad’ an unforgettable journey through slavery

At the end of July, after first lady Michelle Obama mentioned in her speech at the Democratic National Convention that the White House had been built by slaves, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News expressed displeasure, saying that those slaves “were well-fed and had decent lodgings” in the White House. As if slavery’s only flaw was the lack of variety on the lunch menu. I really wish Bill O’Reilly would read Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, which I think he should. This powerful, exquisite novel is a merciless and poignant examination at America’s founding sin, the conviction in white supremacy that allowed it steal a continent’s worth of territory from one people and enslave another.

See also:  How Far North Did The Underground Railroad Go? (Professionals recommend)

Originally planned for mid-September,The Underground Railroad’s release date was bumped early when it was revealed as the first book club choice by Oprah Winfrey in almost a year.

His six previous novels covered a wide range of topics and styles, though they all had a lighthearted tone to them.

The Underground Railroadblends historical fiction — Whitehead read many slave narratives and other sources in his research — with magical realism to create a striking, beautifully crafted novel that echoes a variety of works, notably Toni Morrison’sBeloved, Gabriel García Márquez’sOne Hundred Years of Solitude, Cormac McCarthy’sBlood Meridianand Jonathan Swift’sGulliver’s Travels.

  1. The majority of the time, the children’s families have died or been sold away to a third party.
  2. Left behind and nurtured haphazardly, Cora is embittered by her mother’s departure and fiercely independent.
  3. “In America,” she learns, “the quirk was that people were things.
  4. A young buck from strong tribal stock got customers into a froth.
  5. If you were a thing — a cart or a horse or a slave — your value determined your possibilities.” When Cora is about 16, already a survivor of rape and other brutalities, another young slave named Caesar proposes that the two of them escape.

They know the risks. Whitehead describes the punishment meted out to another slave who runs and is caught: three days of torture, observed by invited white guests from Atlanta and Savannah and a “newspaper man from London come to report on the American scene,” before he is burned alive.

Planning your weekend?

Subscribing to our free Top 5 Things To Do email is easy and quick. We’ll send suggestions every Thursday for going out, staying home or spending time outside. Cora and Caesar, on the other hand, manage to get away and make it to one of the locations on the Underground Railroad that the book is named after. At one point in time, the moniker was used to refer to a network of persons, both black and white, who supported runaways on their lengthy trips to the free states. However, Whitehead also develops a genuine railroad, a system of cobbled-together trains traveling at irregular intervals through deep, dark tunnels, “springing from some incomprehensible source and shooting toward a miracle conclusion,” which is a part of Cora’s tale as well.

Each state has been reinvented by Whitehead as a variant on history.

The state has acquired significant numbers of slaves — “a technicality” — and welcomed runaways and free blacks to an experiment in “uplift.” They have adequate food, clothes and shelter, freedom to travel about and establish friends, even work — although their upkeep is removed from their income, and they wind up constantly a bit behind and living on credit.

  • After discovering that the town’s hospitals are the location of medical research that foreshadows such horrors as the Tuskegee experiment and the mass sterilization of black women in the early twentieth century, Cora and Caesar set out to find out more about this.
  • Cora will be forced to spend the next many months in the cramped attic of a compassionate white man’s house before she can start her journey.
  • In addition to being physically scary, cognitively several steps ahead of the game, and morally absolutely cruel, he also sings and glows in the dark.
  • He is horribly philosophical in his approach to achieving his goal: “For every slave I bring home, twenty others give up on their full-moon plans, as a result of my efforts.
  • The slave who vanishes is but a concept, after all.
  • If we allow it to happen, we are acknowledging the fault in the imperative.
  • She will finally find her way to an Indiana farm where she will join a community of runaways who are attempting to build a new life for themselves, but her journey is far from over.
  • Whites — from people like Ridgeway to entire state governments — flood in to break those frail webs, rendering his characters vulnerable once more whenever his characters try to create any kind of network of affection or support.
  • With The Underground Railroad, Whitehead’s writing style is calm, almost distant, clinical in its detail, and there is no wasted motion, which contrasts and so emphasizes the book’s tragic subject.

It hasn’t even passed yet.” Colette Bancroft may be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8435 ext. 1. Follow Colette on Twitter at @colettemb.

In Colson Whitehead’s Latest, the Underground Railroad Is More Than a Metaphor (Published 2016)

INTERNATIONAL UNDERGROUND TRAVEL RAILROAD Colson Whitehead contributed to this article. Doubleday Publishing Group, 306 pages, $26.95. Colson Whitehead’s novels are abrasive and disobedient creatures: Each one of them goes to considerable efforts to break free from the previous one, from its structure and language, as well as from its particular areas of interest and expertise. All of them, at the same time, have a similar desire to operate inside a recognizably popular cultural framework while also breaking established norms for the novel’s own ends.

  1. His new work, “The Underground Railroad,” is as far far from the zombie story as it is possible to get.
  2. Like its predecessors, it is meticulously constructed and breathtakingly bold; it is also dense, substantial, and significant in ways that are both expected and surprising.
  3. In Whitehead’s novel, the underground railroad is not the hidden network of passages and safe homes used by fugitive slaves to get from their slaveholding states to the free North, as is often believed.
  4. According to Whitehead, “two steel tracks ran the whole length of the tunnel, fastened into the ground by wooden crossties.” Whitehead also describes the tunnel’s interior.
  5. Meet Cora, a teenage slave who works on a cotton farm in Georgia.
  6. When she is contacted by another slave about the Underground Railroad, she is hesitant; nonetheless, life, in the form of rape and humiliation, provides her with the shove she requires to go forward.

“The Underground Railroad” is brave, yet it is never gratuitous in its portrayal of this.) After killing a white man in order to get her freedom, she finds herself hunted by a famed slave catcher named Ridgeway, who appears to be right out of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, and whose helper wears a necklace made of human ears to track her down.

  • Every episode corresponds to a new stop on Cora’s trip, which takes her through the two Carolinas, then Tennessee, and finally Indiana.
  • Sunny Shokrae for The New York Times provided the image.
  • And as readers, we begin to identify little deviations from historical truth, points at which “The Underground Railroad” transforms into something far more intriguing than a historical book.
  • Whitehead’s imagination, free of the constraints of intransigent facts, propels the novel to new locations in the history of slavery, or rather, to areas where it has something fresh to say about the institution.
  • An evocative moment from Whitehead’s novel takes place in the Museum of Natural Wonders in Charleston, South Carolina, and serves as an illustration of the way Whitehead’s imagination works its magic on the characters.
  • The museum has a part devoted to living history, which you may visit.
  • “Scenes From Darkest Africa” is the name of one chamber, while “Life on the Slave Ship” is the name of another.
  • The curator, adds Whitehead, “did acknowledge that spinning wheels were not commonly used outside,” but contends that “although authenticity was their watchword, the size of the chamber dictated certain concessions.” Whitehead’s article is available online.
  • Nobody, on the other hand, wants to speak about the actual nature of the world.
  • Certainly not the white monsters that were on the opposite side of the exhibit at the time, pressing their greasy snouts against the glass and snorting and hooting.
  • “The Underground Railroad” is also a film on the several ways in which black history has been hijacked by white narrators far too frequently in the past.

When Cora recalls the chapters in the Bible that deal with slavery, she is quick to point the finger at those who wrote them down: “People always got things wrong,” she believes, “on design as much as by mistake.” Whitehead’s work is continually preoccupied with issues of narrative validity and authority, as well as with the various versions of the past that we carry about with us, throughout the novel.

In the course of my reading, I was often reminded of a specific passage from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” to which Whitehead seemed to have drawn a great deal of inspiration for his treatment of time.

One guy, though, is aware of what he seen — thousands of dead people moving toward the sea on a train — and wanders around looking for someone who could recall the events of the narrative.

‘The Underground Railroad’ is, in a sense, Whitehead’s own attempt to put things right, not by telling us what we already know, but by defending the ability of fiction to understand the reality around us.

It is a courageous and essential work in its investigation of the founding sins of the United States of America.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – Teacher’s Guide: 9780345804327

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR TEACHERS Instructions for Teachers The Underground Railroad is a term used to describe a system of transportation that allows people to flee their homes. Cora, a young African American lady who goes to freedom from the antebellum South via a magnificently conceived physical—rather than metaphorical—railroad, is introduced in The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. The locations and people Cora experiences throughout the novel, which is told in episodes, furnish her and the reader with important discoveries about the consequences of captivity.

See also:  Why Do Red And Royal Seperate Underground Railroad? (Correct answer)

The reader is reminded of the importance of hope, of resistance, and of freedom via Cora, making The Underground Railroadan essential supplement to any classroom curriculum.

An understanding of the slave trade, slavery, and how it operated in the United States is necessary in order to make sense of the number of Africans who were enslaved and the historical legacy of enslavement that has lasted through Reconstruction, the civil rights movement, and up to the present day in the United States.

  • Most importantly, including The Underground Railroadallows readers to bear witness to a counter-narrative of slavery that is not generally covered in the literature on slavery.
  • Because of the Underground Railroad, we are reminded that her tale may be used as a springboard for bigger talks about racism, gender, and a slew of other critical issues.
  • When used at the collegiate level, the book is suited for writing and literary classes, race and gender studies, and first-year/common reading programs, among other things.
  • The prompts are organized according to the standard that they most directly support.
  • For a comprehensive listing of the Standards, please see the following link: warnings: There are multiple instances of violence throughout the text (sexual and physical).
  • Although teachers should not avoid exposing children to these events, guiding them through them via conversation and critical analysis will help them gain a better understanding of the consequences of enslavement as it has been experienced by so many people throughout history.
  • Activity in the Classroom Make a list of all the ways in which Cora fights against the dehumanization that comes with servitude.

Then hold a Socratic seminar to determine in what ways she is a “insurrection of one” (172) and why her resistance is such a threat to the system of white supremacy.Key Ideas and Specifics : CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.3 Examine the consequences of the author’s decisions about how to develop and connect the many aspects of a tale or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

  1. Even while whites continue to orchestrate festivals among the slave population in South Carolina, free people are free to congregate and spend time with one another whenever they choose.
  2. And what do these get-togethers have to say about community, kinship, and happiness?
  3. What aspects of South Carolina’s enslavement are similar to those of slavery?
  4. What characteristics distinguish South Carolina from Randall?
  5. Her reading materials include a Bible and almanacs, which “Cora admired.
  6. What role does the act of reading, and hence literacy, play in Cora’s ability to be free?

Consider, as well, how Ethel and Ridgeway use the Bible and religion to justify slavery: “If God had not intended for Africans to be enslaved, they would not be in chains” (195); and Cora’s observation: “Slavery is a sin when whites are subjected to the yoke, but not when Africans are subjected to the yoke” (195).

  • This is how Ridgeway describes his position: “I’m an idea of order.” Likewise, the slave who vanishes is only a fictitious concept.
  • If we allow it to happen, we are acknowledging the fault in the imperative.
  • Is there a “defect in the imperative,” and why is it critical for Ridgeway and the larger institution of enslavement that is reliant on Black people that this flaw be addressed and eliminated?
  • Mingo and Lander are similar in many ways.
  • What are the similarities and differences between these two guys and Booker T.
  • E.
  • Du Bois?

Examine the relevance of how each person who worked on the railroad—from station agents to conductors—was influenced by their jobs and the railroad itself.

Which concepts such as resistance, agency, and responsibility do these individuals hold dear to their hearts?

The ability to read and to be literate provided one with a tremendous instrument for comprehending the world and for liberating others from oppression.

Consider the significance of the Valentine library, which boasts “the largest collection of negroliterature this side of Chicago,” among other things (273).

What role does Cora’s experience play in articulating the relationship between freedom and literacy?

Cora’s grandmother, Ajarry, is our first introduction to her.

What role does Ajarry play in setting a good example for Mabel, and in especially for Cora, is unclear.

A comparison has been made between the episodic structure of The Underground Railroad and that of Jonathan Swift’sGulliver’s Travels by Colson Whitehead.

A station agent tells Cora, “If you want to see what this country is all about, I always say you have to ride the rails,” as he tells her he wants her to ride the trains.

What role does Lumbly’s appraisal play in framing Cora’s next phase of her trip once she leaves Georgia?

Cora travels the majority of the way by herself.

Years ago, she had taken a wrong turn and was no longer able to find her way back to the folks she had left behind” (145).

Also, how do her travels influence her perspective on the ever-present threat of sexual assault against Black women, as well as the general lack of protection for enslaved women?

Examine the Friday Festivals and the night riders to see how they compare.

What are the ways in which these occurrences express worries of black rebellion?

Instead, he and his family were sold and split apart by the government.

Gulliver’s Travels is the title of the book.

The notion of literacy for freedom is sustained by Caesar’s hunger for knowledge in what way is unclear.

Who was the one who started it?

The question is, how could this be both a “community striving for something precious and unique” and a threat to others (such as the residents in the nearby town, slave hunters, and so on)?

Is there a clear message about risk and reward in this?

Why is Sam the only one who returns to Cora out of all of the agents she has encountered?

Look at page 285 and see how Lander responds to Mingo.

What is the role of illusion throughout the narrative, and why is this particular moment so important for the acts that follow?

“You have a responsibility to pass on something beneficial to your children” (293).

What is their legacy in Cora, and how has it been realized?

Examine the relevance of turning the Underground Train into a real-world railroad system.

Create stations for students to study and debate each advertising based on a framing text (for example, “New Databases Offer Insight into the Lives of Escaped Slaves” from the New York Times).

What are some of the similarities and differences between the actual announcements and Cora’s version of them?

Knowledge and ideas are integrated in this process.

“That tale, like so many that we tell about our nation’s past, has a complicated relationship to the truth: not exactly false, but simplified; not quite a myth, but mythologized,” argues Kathryn Schultz in her essay “The Perilous Lure of the Underground Railroad” in the New Yorker.

For what reason is it important to emphasize African Americans’ role in the abolitionist movement?

According to the Slave Memorial Act of 2003, “the District of Columbia shall be the site of a memorial to slavery to: (1) acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery throughout the United States and its thirteen American colonies; and (2) honor the nameless and forgotten men, women, and children who have gone unrecognized for their undeniable and weighty contribution to the development of the United States.

” There are no national monuments dedicated to the enslavement of Africans in the United States at this time.

What is the most appropriate way to commemorate and remember the enslavement of African people?

Draw on examples from the text to support your thinking as you create an artistic representation that places Cora within that lineage, extending the timeline all the way to the present day.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.11-12.7 Research projects that are both short and long in duration are carried out to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; when necessary, inquiries are narrowed or broadened; and multiple sources on the subject are synthesized to demonstrate understanding of the subject under investigation.

One of the episodes should be chosen as a starting point for doing critical analysis and presenting findings from research on one of the issues listed below, along with an explanation of how that topic relates to the novel’s themes.

forced sterilization, settler colonialism, lynching, African Americans and abolitionism, African American slave rebellions, sexual violence against African American women, reparations, literacy practices during and after enslavement, the role of white women in slavery, maroons and maronage, racial health disparities, and reparations.

(Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,” The Atlantic, November 2005.

“New Databases Provide Insight Into the Lives of Escaped Slaves,” says the New York Times.

“Whitehead’s ‘Underground Railroad’ Is a Literal Train to Freedom,” according to the New York Times.

“Maroons and Marronage” bibliographies are included.

The New Yorker is a publication dedicated to journalism.

(APM Reports) According to the Washington Post Octavia Butler’s novel Kindred I have complete control over my life.

The Language You Cry In (film), a newsreel from California Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me is a memoir about growing up in the United States.

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (video), by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

GillRoots (film) Virginia Hamilton’s The People Could Fly (children’s literature) is a classic.

Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon is a classic.

Rebecca Skloot’s novel The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is set in the United States.

Denzel Washington, Denzel Washington’s Great Debaters, and Denzel Washington’s Literacy as Freedom Carol Boston Weatherford’s Freedom in Congo Square is a work of fiction.

(in the context of children’s literature) Isabel Wilkerson’s book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, is a must-read.

Andrea Williams is a writer who lives in New York City.

Johnson Andrea Williams is a writer who lives in New York City.


Parker, the author of this guide, is a professor of English at Cambridge, Rindge, and Latin School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

A Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Illinois at Champaign, Dr. Parker is an expert in the field of education. WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUThtml /

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *