How Many Chapters Are In The Underground Railroad By Whitehead? (Solved)

Based on the 2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Colson Whitehead, “The Underground Railroad” is a story divided into ten chapters, but not in a traditional episodic manner.

When was the Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead published?

  • The Underground Railroad, published in 2016, is the sixth novel by American author Colson Whitehead .

How many pages is Underground Railroad?

“The Underground Railroad,” a ten -part limited series out this week from Amazon Prime Video, offers Moonlight director Barry Jenkins’ interpretation of Whitehead’s acclaimed work.

How long does it take to read The Underground Railroad?

The average reader will spend 5 hours and 6 minutes reading this book at 250 WPM (words per minute).

Is Colson Whitehead married?

Whitehead lives in Manhattan and also owns a home in Sag Harbor on Long Island. His wife, Julie Barer, is a literary agent and they have two children.

How do I contact Colson Whitehead?

Colson Whitehead

  1. Contact: [email protected]
  2. Speaking Engagements: Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau.
  3. Publicity: Michael Goldsmith [email protected]
  4. Photo: Chris Close.
  5. Upcoming events: 2021.

Does The Underground Railroad still exist?

It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.

How many episodes were there of The Underground Railroad?

Colson Whitehead’s 2016 novel, The Underground Railroad, won a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Now, it’s a limited series directed by Academy Award-winner Barry Jenkins (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk). In ten episodes, The Underground Railroad chronicles Cora Randall’s journey to escape slavery.

How much does The Underground Railroad Cost?

There are no fees to visit Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument, but some partner sites may charge fees.

How long are the Underground Railroad episodes?

Watching Jenkins unleash his potent and profound film allegory in 10 episodes varying in length from 20 minutes to an hour is also really scary, possessed as it is of a sorrowful poetry that speaks urgently to an uncertain future. With this flat-out masterpiece, Jenkins has raised series television to the level of art.

How many episodes are in the Underground Railroad seasons?

The series was billed as a limited series. That should mean there is only one season of the series. After all, it does tell the full story for the books, even if there are a few questions at the very end. Being billed as a limited series doesn’t mean a series remains that way.

Who is Arnold Ridgeway?

Arnold Ridgeway, the slave catcher who dedicates himself to finding Cora, has been a slave catcher since age 14. He spent most of his time in New York City, strategizing ways to identify and capture former slaves without being stopped by abolitionists. Ridgeway gained a reputation as both effective and brutal.

Is The Underground Railroad a true story?

Adapted from Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer-award-winning novel, The Underground Railroad is based on harrowing true events. The ten-parter tells the story of escaped slave, Cora, who grew up on The Randall plantation in Georgia.

When did The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead take place?

The Underground Railroad starts on the Randall plantation in Georgia around 1812. This plantation is an amalgamation of every horror and tragedy you’ve ever heard of about slavery.

The Underground Railroad (novel) – Wikipedia

The Underground Railroad

Author Colson Whitehead
Country United States
Language English
Subject Slavery
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date August 2, 2016
Pages 320
ISBN 978-0-385-54236-4

American authorColson Whitehead’s historical fiction work The Underground Railroadwas released by Doubleday in 2016 and is set during the Civil War. As told through the eyes of two slaves from Georgia during the antebellum period of the nineteenth century, Cora and Caesar make a desperate bid for freedom from their Georgia plantation by following the Underground Railroad, which is depicted in the novel as an underground transportation system with safe houses and secret routes. The novel was a critical and commercial success, debuting on the New York Times bestseller list and garnering numerous literary honors, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the National Book Award for Fiction, the Arthur C.

The miniseries adaption for ATV, written and directed by Barry Jenkins, will premiere in May 2021 on the network.


The tale is recounted in the third person, with the most of the attention being drawn to Cora. Throughout the book, the chapters shift between Cora’s past and the backgrounds of the featured people. Ajarry, Cora’s grandmother; Ridgeway, a slave catcher; Stevens, a South Carolina doctor conducting a social experiment; Ethel, the wife of a North Carolina station agent; Caesar, a fellow slave who escapes the plantation with Cora; and Mabel, Cora’s mother are among the characters who appear in the novel.

  1. Cora is a slave on a farm in Georgia, and she has become an outcast since her mother Mabel abandoned her and fled the country.
  2. Cora is approached by Caesar about a possible escape strategy.
  3. During their escape, they come across a bunch of slave hunters, who abduct Cora’s young buddy Lovey and take her away with them.
  4. Cora and Caesar, with the assistance of a novice abolitionist, track down the Subterranean Railroad, which is represented as a true underground railroad system that runs throughout the southern United States, delivering runaways northward.
  5. When Ridgeway learns of their escape, he immediately initiates a manhunt for them, primarily as a form of retaliation for Mabel, who is the only escapee he has ever failed to apprehend.
  6. According to the state of South Carolina, the government owns former slaves but employs them, provides medical care for them, and provides them with community housing.
  7. Ridgeway comes before the two can depart, and Cora is forced to return to the Railroad on her own for the remainder of the day.

Cora finally ends up in a decommissioned railroad station in North Carolina.

Slavery in North Carolina has been abolished, with indentured servants being used in its place.

Martin, fearful of what the North Carolinians would do to an abolitionist, takes Cora into his attic and keeps her there for a number of months.

While Cora is descending from the attic, a raid is carried out on the home, and she is recaptured by Ridgeway, while Martin and Ethel are executed by the crowd in their absence.

Ridgeway’s traveling group is assaulted by runaway slaves when stopped in Tennessee, and Cora is freed as a result of the attack.

The farm is home to a diverse group of freedmen and fugitives who coexist peacefully and cooperatively in their daily activities.

However, Royal, an operator on the railroad, encourages Cora to do so.

Eventually, the farm is destroyed, and several people, including Royal, are slain during a raid by white Hoosiers on the property.

Ridgeway apprehends Cora and compels her to accompany him to a neighboring railroad station that has been shuttered.

Homer is listening in on his views on the “American imperative” as he whispers them to him in his diary when he is last seen.

Cora then bolts down the railroad rails. She eventually emerges from the underworld to find herself in the midst of a caravan headed west. She is offered a ride by one of the wagons’ black drivers, who is dressed in black.

Literary influences and parallels

As part of the “Acknowledgements,” Whitehead brings up the names of two well-known escaped slaves: “Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, clearly.” While visiting Jacobs’s home state of North Carolina, Cora is forced to take refuge in an attic where, like Jacobs, she is unable to stand but can watch the outside world through a hole that “had been cut from the inside, the work of a former tenant.” This parallel was noticed by Martin Ebel, who wrote about it in a review for the SwissTages-Anzeiger.

He also points out that the “Freedom Trail,” where the victims of North Carolina lynchings are hanged from trees, has a historical precedent in Roman crosses erected along the Appian Way to execute slave revolters who had joinedSpartacus’ slave rebellion, which was written about by Arthur Koestler in his novelThe Gladiators.

Ridgeway has been compared to both Captain Ahab of Moby-Dick and the slave catcher August Pullman of the television seriesUnderground, according to Kathryn Schulz in The New Yorker: “Both Ridgeway and August Pullman, in “Underground,” are Ahab-like characters, privately and demonically obsessed with tracking down specific fugitives.” Neither Ahab nor Ridgeway have a warm place for a black boy: Ahab has a soft heart for the cabin-boy Pip, and Ridgeway has a soft spot for 10-year-old Homer, whom he acquired as a slave and freed the next day.

Whitehead’s North Carolina is a place where all black people have been “abolished.” Martin Ebel draws attention to the parallels between Cora’s hiding and the Nazi genocide of Jews, as well as the parallels between Cora’s concealment and Anne Frank’s.

He had three gallows made for Cora and her two companion fugitives so that they might be put to a merciless death as soon as they were apprehended and returned.


External video
Presentation by Whitehead at the Miami Book Fair onThe Underground Railroad, November 20, 2016,C-SPAN

Critical reception

The novel garnered mostly good responses from critics. It received high accolades from critics for its reflection on the history and present of the United States of America. The Underground Railroad was named 30th in The Guardian’s selection of the 100 greatest novels of the twenty-first century, published in 2019. Among other accolades, the work was named the best novel of the decade by Paste and came in third place (together with Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad) on a list compiled by Literary Hub.

Honors and awards

The novel has garnered a variety of honors, including the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction for fiction writing in general. It was E. Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News, published in 1993, that was the first novel to win both the Pulitzer and the National Book Awards. When awarding the Pulitzer Prize, the jury cited this novel’s “smart mixing of reality and allegory that mixes the savagery of slavery with the drama of escape in a myth that relates to modern America” as the reason for its selection.

Clarke Award for science fiction literature and the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence, The Underground Railroad was a finalist for the 2017 Man Booker Prize and was named to the Man Booker Prize longlist.

The International Astronomical Union’s Working Group forPlanetary System Nomenclature named acrateronPluto’smoonCharonCora on August 5, 2020, after the fictional character Cora from the novel.

Television adaptation

In March 2017, it was revealed that Amazon was developing a limited drama series based on The Underground Railroad, which will be written and directed by Barry Jenkins. In 2021, the series will be made available on Amazon Prime Video on May 14, 2021.


  1. Brian Lowry is a writer who lives in the United Kingdom (May 13, 2021). “‘The Underground Railroad’ takes you on a tense journey through an alternate past,” says the author. Colson Whitehead’s novel “The Underground Railroad,” which won the 2016 National Book Award for fiction, was retrieved on May 19, 2021. The National Book Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of literature. The original version of this article was published on December 8, 2017. 6th of December, 2016
  2. Retrieved ‘The Underground Railroad Is More Than a Metaphor in Colson Whitehead’s Newest Novel,’ says the New York Times. The original version of this article was published on October 19, 2018. “The Underground Railroad (novel) SummaryStudy Guide,” which was retrieved on October 18, 2018, was also retrieved. Bookrags. The original version of this article was published on April 16, 2017. Obtainable on April 16, 2017
  3. Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (London, 2017), p. 185
  4. AbMartin Ebel’s The Underground Railroad (London, 2017), p. 185. (September 17, 2017). “”Underground Railroad: An Enzyklopädie of Dehumanization,” by Colson Whitehead (in German). Deutschlandfunk. The original version of this article was archived on April 18, 2021. “The Perilous Lure of the Underground Railroad” (The Perilous Lure of the Underground Railroad) was published on March 16, 2021. The original version of this article was archived on July 23, 2020. 2 March 2020
  5. Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad (London, 2017), pp. 242-243
  6. 2 March 2020
  7. In Colson Whitehead’s book, The Underground Railroad, published in London in 2017, the white politician Garrison declares, “We exterminated niggers.” abColson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad (London, 2017), p. 250
  8. AbKakutani, Michiko, The Underground Railroad (London, 2017), p. 250. (August 2, 2016). In this review, “Underground Railroad” reveals the horrors of slavery and the poisonous legacy it left behind. The New York Times is a newspaper published in New York City. The original version of this article was published on April 28, 2019. Obtainable on April 14, 2017
  9. Julian Lucas Lucas, Julian (September 29, 2016). “New Black Worlds to Get to Know” is a review of the film “New Black Worlds to Know.” The New York Review of Books is a literary magazine published in New York City. The original version of this article was archived on April 13, 2021. abPreston, Alex
  10. Retrieved on April 13, 2021
  11. Ab (October 9, 2016). Luminous, angry, and wonderfully innovative is how one reviewer described Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. The Guardian is a British newspaper. The original version of this article was published on February 9, 2019. “The 100 finest books of the twenty-first century,” which was retrieved on April 14, 2017. The Guardian is a British newspaper. The original version of this article was published on December 6, 2019. “The 40 Best Novels of the 2010s,” which was retrieved on September 22, 2019. The 14th of October, 2019. The original version of this article was published on October 15, 2019. Retrieved on November 9, 2019
  12. Ab”2017 Pulitzer Prize Winners and Nominees” (Pulitzer Prize winners and nominees for 2017). The Pulitzer Prizes were awarded in 2017. The original version of this article was published on April 11, 2017. Alter, Alexandra (April 10, 2017)
  13. Retrieved April 10, 2017. (November 17, 2016). “Colson Whitehead’s ‘The Underground Railroad’ wins the National Book Award,” reports the New York Times. Journal of the New York Times (ISSN 0362-4331). The original version of this article was published on February 9, 2019. “Archived copy” was obtained on January 24, 2017
  14. “archived copy”. The original version of this article was published on May 7, 2019. Obtainable on May 13, 2019. CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  15. Page, Benedicte, “Whitehead shortlisted for Arthur C Clarke Award”Archived16 August 2017 at theWayback Machine, The Bookseller, May 3, 2017
  16. French, Agatha. “Whitehead shortlisted for Arthur C Clarke Award”Archived16 August 2017 at theWayback Machine, The Bookseller, May 3, 2017. “Among the recipients of the American Library Association’s 2017 prize is Rep. John Lewis’ ‘March: Book Three.'” The Los Angeles Times published this article. The original version of this article was published on December 8, 2017. Sophie Haigney’s article from January 24, 2017 was retrieved (July 27, 2017). “Arundhati Roy and Colson Whitehead Are Among the Authors on the Man Booker Longlist.” Journal of the New York Times (ISSN 0362-4331). The original version of this article was published on December 12, 2018. Loughrey, Clarisse (May 23, 2018)
  17. Retrieved May 23, 2018. (July 27, 2017). “The longlist for the Man Booker Prize 2017 has been announced.” The Independent is a newspaper published in the United Kingdom. The original version of this article was published on July 7, 2018. Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad (National Book Award Winner) (Oprah’s Book Club) was published on May 23, 2018, and it was written by Colson Whitehead. On December 6, 2016, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group on Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) published the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature, which includes the names of craters on the planets Charon, Pluto, and Uranus “. The original version of this article was archived on March 25, 2021. On August 14, 2020, Kimberly Roots published an article entitled “The Underground Railroad Series, From Moonlight Director, Greenlit at Amazon.” Archived 29 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine, TVLine, March 27, 2017
  18. Haring, Bruce, Archived 29 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine, TVLine, March 27, 2017
  19. (February 25, 2021). “The premiere date for the Amazon Prime Limited Series ‘The Underground Railroad’ has been set.” Deadline. February 25, 2021
  20. Retrieved February 25, 2021
See also:  How Long Is The Underground Railroad Performance? (The answer is found)

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.

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.

  1. Instead, they are succinctly and dispassionately presented in a few few paragraphs.
  2. Evil doesn’t require any more embellishment.
  3. For the third time in the novel, this chapter emphasizes how important family legacy is as a motif throughout the book.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. When Cora says no to Caesar’s invitation to accompany her on his journey, is it “her grandmother talking” in the traditional sense?
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. This fluctuation heightens the sense of unpredictability that pervades Ajarry’s universe.
  10. 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.
  11. 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 (novel) Summary

It contains detailed information and analysis to assist you in understanding the novel, The Underground Railroad (novel)SummaryStudy Guide The following sections are included in this study guide:. This comprehensive review of the literature also includes Quotes as well as a Free Quizon Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad is set during the American Civil War. It was necessary to utilize the following version of the book in order to build this study guide: Colson and Whitehead. The Underground Railroad, first edition, is a novel about the Underground Railroad.

There are several short chapters that introduce and occasionally interrupt the main narrative of the story, which takes place in the Southern United States during the abolitionist movement (early 1800s).

It is important to note that the terms “colored” and “nigger” are used throughout the book and analysis in order to reflect the language of the time: in other words, the terms in the book are historically appropriate, and they are used throughout this analysis with the same intent of being accurate as they are in the book.

  1. It is described in the narrative how Ajarry acquired possession of, and maintained authority over, a tiny plot of land in the slave region of the Randall plantation in the Southern state of Georgia, where she spent the most of her adult life.
  2. There is also mention of how Ajarry argued that efforts to escape were hopeless; how Mabel staged a successful escape despite this; and how Cora turned down an initial offer to make her own attempt from fellow slave Caesar.
  3. After their first night on the run, they are disturbed by the entrance of another slave, Lovey, who had figured out what they were doing and had gone to join them.
  4. The encounter escalates into a brawl, during which Lovey is apprehended and Cora kills one of the assailants in the process.
  5. Cora and Caesar are given new names and identities, and they begin new lives in which they become increasingly comfortable, despite being presented with a succession of opportunities to continue on the underground railroad even farther north, and ultimately to their liberation.
  6. Cora is able to flee to North Carolina, where she is taken up by Martin and Ethel Wells, who provide her with shelter while she is on the run.
  7. Eventually, she is located and given over to Ridgeway, leaving the Wells family to deal with the wrath and violence of the bigoted inhabitants of the village.
  8. Cora manages to escape with the assistance of a guy with whom she chances to establish eye contact on the street, and the two go to Indiana along with the man (Royal).
  9. In the end, the farm is raided by a party of slave hunters, and Cora is captured and held prisoner by Ridgeway once more.
  10. Eventually, she reaches the end of the line, where she climbs to the surface and is picked up by a colored guy who is part of a caravan heading out to a new life in the American West.

Ajarry’s life is described in detail in the book’s first character, who also explores the lives, backgrounds, and destinies of numerous other characters in chapters that are interspersed throughout the story. Ridgeway, Ethel Wells, Caesar, and Mabel are among the characters who appear in the novel.

The Underground Railroad Colson Whitehead Chapter Summaries – Studypool

Our teachers deliver explanations and answers of the highest quality. Submit a question

Newest Questions

Chapter Summary
Chapter 1 When Caesar first asks Cora to flee to the north, she says no; this refusal is related to the experiences of Cora’s grandmother, Ajarry. Ajarry w.Read more
Chapter 2 The chapter is preceded by a “runaway ad” from 1820 seeking the capture of an enslaved girl called Lizzie and warning people not to harbor her.Read more
Chapter 3 Ridgeway’s father was a blacksmith who had a “half-breed” friend called Tom Bird. When drunk, Tom would talk about the “Great Spirit” tha.Read more
Chapter 4 The chapter is preceded by another runaway slave ad, this time for an 18-year-old “yellow Negro girl” who ran away nine months ago and who is s.Read more
Chapter 5 A man named Aloysius Stevens works night shifts on fellowship at the Anatomy House of the Proctor Medical School in Boston. Someone called Carpente.Read more
Chapter 6 This chapter is preceded by another runaway ad, this time for a 21-year-old called Martha. The narrative then returns to Cora, who believes it has.Read more
Chapter 7 Ethel always dreamed of being a missionary in Africa, “bringing the savages to the light.” She fantasizes about adventuring deep into the jungl.Read more
Chapter 8 This chapter begins with another runaway ad, a 16-year-old biracial girl called Peggy. The narrator then describes Cora’s journey with Ridgeway,.Read more
Chapter 9 The narrative cuts back to Jockey’s birthday celebration, when Caesar steals a quiet moment to himself in the schoolhouse. He hopes that this wil.Read more
Chapter 10 This chapter is preceded by a runaway ad for a 28-year-old woman called Sukey, who is “very neat in appearance” and a devout Methodist. The nar.Read more
Chapter 11 When Mabel was pregnant with Cora, she would apologize to the unborn child for bringing her into the world, just as she apologized to Cora for maki.Read more
Chapter 12 The final chapter of the novel is preceded by a runaway ad for Cora; however, unlike the other ads, this one deviates from the conventional script.Read more
See also:  How Long Did Harriet Tubman Work On The Underground Railroad? (Question)

The Underground Railroad Chapter Summaries

See the Chapter Summaries Chart for further information.

Timeline of Events

  • In the course of her abduction, transportation, and sale into slavery, Ajarry winds herself on the Randall plantation. Ajarry

Early 19th century

  • To escape the Randall plantation and Cora, Mabel abandons the two of them in the marsh, where she eventually dies. Mabel

When Cora is about 16

  • When Caesar notices Cora attempting to stop a little child from being abused, he approaches her and begs her to accompany him away. Caesar

Soon after

  • Cora and Caesar flee the plantation, and Cora murders a white kid who tries to apprehend them. Cora and Caesar are apprehended and imprisoned. Georgia

At the same time

  • Cora and Caesar go to South Carolina via the Underground Railroad system. Georgia

A few months later

  • In South Carolina, Cora narrowly avoids being captured by Ridgeway. South Carolina is located in the United States.

At the same time

  • Caesar is assassinated by a mob that believes he is responsible for the death of a white youngster. Tennessee

Soon after

  • Cora travels by train to North Carolina, where she is forced to take refuge in an attic for several months, despite her best efforts. North Carolina is a state in the United States that is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean.

A few months later

  • Ridgeway apprehends Cora in North Carolina, where her hosts are high on marijuana. North Carolina is a state in the United States that is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean.

A few days later

  • Cora and Ridgeway are visiting a major town in Tennessee when Royal comes upon them. Tennessee

That night

  • Cora is rescued from Ridgeway by Royal and two other men, who then transport her to the Valentine Farm via train. Tennessee

A few weeks later

  • Royal takes Cora on a tour of the tunnel and handcar beneath a nearby cottage near the property. Indiana

A few months later

  • When white patrollers assault the farm, they murder Royal and abduct Cora, who is then taken by Ridgeway. Indiana

That night

  • Cora grabs Ridgeway’s arm, causing both of them to fall down the stairwell. The Northern Hemisphere

The next couple of days

  • Cora escapes by pumping the handcar and walking along the tunnel in the dark to the other side. The Northern Hemisphere

Soon after

  • Cora comes up Ollie, another escaped slave who is on his way to California, and the two of them ride together in a wagon to California. The Northern Hemisphere

ChapterSummaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Ajarry Cora spoke with the words of her grandmother Ajarry when she refused to run away with Caesar. Ajarry was only a girl whe. Read More
Georgia This chapter begins with an advertisement for a runaway slave named Lizzie written by her owner, W.M. Dixon. Dixon offer. Read More
Ridgeway Arnold Ridgeway is the son of a blacksmith. He did not share his father’s religious devotion to the craft and scoffed at. Read More
South Carolina A slave owner describes a runaway slave girl who can be identified by a scar on her arm. He suspects she is in the area. Read More
Stevens Aloysius Stevens (later, Dr. Stevens) put himself through medical school by working nights in the anatomy building. The. Read More
North Carolina After waiting in the dark of the station in South Carolina, Cora is relieved when a train finally arrives. The locomotiv. Read More
Ethel As a child, Ethel dreams of becoming a missionary in Africa where her converts shout her name. She likes to play with Ja. Read More
Tennessee An advertisement for “Peggy” describes the runaway as a mulatto (a person of mixed African American and white ancestry). Read More
Caesar When Caesar was on the Randall plantation, he used to visit the old schoolhouse to read a book he had hidden under the f. Read More
Indiana A slave owner offers $50 as a reward for the return of his slave girl Sukey, whom he claims left “without provocation.”. Read More
Mabel Mabel tells Cora she is sorry for the night the girl was born and for the night she had to leave her to escape the Randa. Read More
The North Titled “Ran Away,” an advertisement describes a slave girl named Cora, perhaps answering to Bessie, who escaped “her leg. Read More

This Study Guide should be cited Do you have any research materials to give regarding the Underground Railroad? Upload them to receive a free Course Hero subscription! 2016 Copyright & Intellectual Property Rights Course Hero, Inc. is a for-profit corporation. As a reminder, you are only permitted to use Course Hero content for your own personal use and are not permitted to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise exploit it for any reason other than your own.

Blood on the Tracks

“She had two possible ends in mind: either a comfortable, hard-won existence in a northern metropolis or death.” In the middle of these two choices, Cora is a young lady born into slavery, for whom there is little to call her own between the two options. The narrative of her life is told in Colson Whitehead’s stunning and haunting new novel, The Underground Railroad. It’s a book that is widely projected to win every prize available this year—the Pulitzer Prize, the Booker Prize, the National Book Award, and so on—and it is deserving of every one of them.

  • It is through an Underground Railroad that Cora journeys toward freedom, which Whitehead has rendered literal: tunnels hacked and scraped through the soil, locomotives and rickety box trains, stations concealed beneath kitchen-floor trap doors but never far from danger.
  • The reader would be unprepared for the savagery of the book’s initial portions if any of these warnings were given to them.
  • When it comes to punishment, its owner, Terrance Randall, possesses, in the words of the famed slave catcher Ridgeway, “an elaborate imagination.” Whitehead employs a vivid imagination that is every bit as intricate as Randall’s in order to make this horrific universe tangible.
  • Whitehead can see the light leaking through the fractures in this society, as well as the fleeting optimism that motivates Cora and her co-conspirators to continue their mission of destruction.
  • That is obviously not a fresh concept in the realm of literature, any more than the legacy of slavery is a novel concept in the psyche of the United States.
  • With the use of an email, Whitehead responded to a few questions from Chapter 16.
  • Unaware that we are following a certain type of reasoning — one whose implications we may not agree with — until we have already gone along on its premise for a while, we are said to be walking through it.
  • Is it possible for you to discuss your own theories regarding how the narrator’s voice functions?

Aside from providing context, the narrator also explains the universe, delivers caustic asides, and, in certain instances, gives a blessing (as in Cora’s fugitive-slave advertisement, for example), So, perhaps, the narrator is doing its job while also breaking away from the constraints of its orders on occasion.

Is there anything you can say in response to that argument?

A speech delivered to liberated men and women on the Valentin farm in Chapter 16 by orator Elijah Lander describes the United States as “a fantasy, the biggest one of them all.” He believes that the United States should not exist because “its underpinnings are murder, theft, and cruelty.” “However, here we are.” Colin Kaepernick, an NFL quarterback, recently declined to stand for the national anthem in protest of systematic racism and police violence against people of color in the United States of America.

  1. Does the “yet” in “yet here we are” make you think of a future in which the paradox becomes less noticeable, or even dissolves altogether?
  2. A young black guy who is always scribbling things down in his notebook appears to be the right-hand man of the slave catcher Ridgeway in Chapter 16, which is counterintuitively a young black man.
  3. So, how did he come to be?
  4. Homer’s going to be Homer, says Whitehead.
  5. Surely, the story of Homer and Ridgeway isn’t all that odd.
  6. Chapter 16: If there is a God in this place, he is a God of indifference, but at the same time, the “ghost tunnel” has the faintest traces of, if not supernatural forces, then at the very least some other kind of power.
  7. Do you want readers to ponder, if anything, the existence of any type of power other than human intellect and brutality at work inside the universe of this novel?

Chapter 16: Cora has a complicated connection with music; at one point, she contemplates the lyrics of a specific song and wonders to herself, “How could such a cruel thing become a source of pleasure?” Your acknowledgments list some of the music you were writing to, including Misfits—a band whose type of horror I also enjoy, but whose style has always struck me as a little camp.

while writing about a real-life heritage of violence, in exquisite detail, what are you thinking?

I never draw a link between the job I’m doing and the music I’m listening to, except when Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?” comes on.

Steve Haruch resides in the city of Nashville. In addition to the Nashville Scene, where he is a contributing editor, his writing has appeared on NPR’s Code Switch, The New York Times, and other publications. Tagged:Fiction

The Underground Railroad Chapter 1: Ajarry Summary and Analysis

The concept of escape is introduced in the very first line of the first chapter. When Caesara requests that Corato accompany him on his journey, she declines, a reaction that the narrator relates to the heritage of Cora’s grandmother, Ajarry. The remainder of the first chapter is devoted to Ajarry’s narrative. An Ajarry is sold into slavery at Ouidah, a port city on the African continent’s Gold Coast. Due to the fact that her mother has long passed away, as well as the fact that her father was slain by slave traffickers on the march to Ouidah when he couldn’t keep up with their march, Ajarry is forced into slavery as an orphan.

  • The fate of Ajarry’s kin is known to the narrator, but not to Ajarry, who is rowed out to theNanny, a seasoned slave trading ship from Liverpool, where he will be sold into slavery.
  • The Nannyis a dreadful experience from start to finish.
  • On arrival in America, she is auctioned off in Charleston, South Carolina in front of a crowd of bystanders who are eating oysters, maize, and sucking on rock candy.
  • Ajarry is branded and dispatched on a march to the South Pole.
  • Depending on the whims of the market, her price might swing significantly.
  • She also learns about worth as she “makes a science out her own black body,” as she puts it.
  • The narrator observes a “new blankness behind her eyes,” which she speculates is the outcome of her findings regarding the worth of a slave.
See also:  How Did Harriet Tubman Sucseed With The Underground Railroad? (TOP 5 Tips)

She had three spouses throughout her first year at her new house.

large fists,” to a sugar-cane plantation in Florida.

The third gets caught stealing honey and dies as a result of the wounds he received as a result of his punishment.

Their deaths are caused by a variety of ailments, including fever, a rusty cut, and a blow from an overseer, yet none of them are sold to the public.

Ajarry dies in the cotton field, alone, as a result of a knot in her head.

Despite this, Ajarry’s existence has been defined by her status as a slave since she was captured by slave dealers in the first place.

In the case of Ajarry, escaping would have been impossible.

Three weeks later, though, she had a change of heart and agrees to go on the run. Cora’s mother, according to the narrator, had a strong effect on her decision.


A wide, sweeping summary of the backdrop of slavery is provided in the novel’s opening chapter, setting the stage for how the plot would unfold in the following chapters. It is Ajarry’s account that reveals the brutal linkages of the slave trade between dealers on the Gold Coast in Africa, slave ships sailing under the flags of Portugal and Britain, and eventually the auction blocks of port towns in the United States. Despite the fact that the majority of The Underground Railroad takes place within the borders of America, and more especially, the southern states, Ajarry’s story provides a vital worldwide framework for the exposition to follow.

  • Ajarry’s journey from slave port to ship to auction to plantation is a familiar one for millions of enslaved Africans throughout history.
  • However, such a pattern is not so far-fetched as to be outside the realm of possibilities in historical terms.
  • Ajarry, Mabel, and Cora’s stories are intertwined in this first chapter of The Underground Railroad, which introduces the concept of the mother-daughter bond for the first time.
  • First and foremost, the novel portrays how slavery is an uniquely gendered experience for his characters, particularly in light of the phenomena of sexual violence that appears in the story.
  • In the novel’s later chapters, both of Ajarry’s descendants, Mabel and Cora, are raped by their cousins.
  • The theme of emancipation from slavery is introduced in the novel’s very first line.
  • As a result, Cora’s actions and judgments are immediately linked to her mother.

Ajarry’s tale, on the other hand, is constructed as a contrast to the experiences of her descendants, Mabel and Cora, in the first half of the novel.

Ajarry makes repeated suicide attempts while on the slave ship.

Ajarry, on the other hand, is characterized by her status as a slave, as opposed to her descendants, who are identified by their race.

Even her death, which takes place in the cotton fields, reveals the entirety of slavery: Ajarry dies while working for the benefit of her white owner.

Later in the novel, Ajarry’s existence will be juxtaposed with the lives of Mabel and, particularly, Cora, who are motivated to seek independence.

The text, on the other hand, depicts these tragedies in a matter-of-fact manner, giving the text a detached tone.

Also throughout the novel, the narrator zooms out from the action in order to reveal greater geopolitical consequences, which is a storytelling device that is used again throughout the novel.

Reviews: The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” is a must-read. The book is published by Doubleday and costs $26.95 for 320 pages. When Caesar addressed Cora about running north, she said no the first time. Colson’s “The Underground Railroad” is a classic. When Whitehead draws readers into his wonderfully crafted portrayal of racial relations in the United States, wrapped in the tale of an epic voyage, they are entering a world of unparalleled brilliance. While this is a discussion between the past and the present, Whitehead begins at the very beginning of the conversation.

  1. Due to the fact that she was part of a bulk purchase in Ouidah, it was difficult to determine how much they paid for her.
  2. Juveniles were outbid by able-bodied adults and women who were pregnant, making it impossible to compile a detailed individual accounting.
  3. The captain staggered his purchases so that he wouldn’t end up with a shipment of unusual culture and disposition.
  4. This was the ship’s penultimate port of call before embarking on its transatlantic voyage.
  5. Skin that looks like bone white.

“John Henry Days,” the novel he was writing on when “The Underground Railroad” came out, has a similar concentration on race and bridges between the past and the present, but it lacks the mastery of story-craft and language that made “The Underground Railroad” so outstanding in the first place.

A wonderful piece of literature is utilized to create an unpleasant environment, and the prose is rich and emotive.

Whitehead tells the tale of Ajarry, a slave girl who was kidnapped and sold from merchant to trader and master to master until she was no longer able to fight for her freedom.

In Cora’s mind, trauma after trauma cut through her psyche like a cross-hatch of raw wounds.

Even though life on the Randall cotton plantation in Georgia is marked by occasional extremes of punishment and torture, the narrative’s primary focus is on the quotidian humiliations and casual inhumanity of white supremacy, which the author describes as “the travesties so routine and familiar that they were a kind of weather.” Black pain has traditionally been used to threaten black people and delight white people, and Whitehead’s narrative is well aware of this history (it draws attention to it several times) yet it refuses to take part.

  1. Despite the fact that Cora’s rape and whippings are mentioned, they are not described.
  2. Even Cora’s adversary, the slave catcher Arnold Ridgeway, acknowledges that the Randall plantation is a unique and special place.
  3. People appreciated this type of entertainment, and it had a political purpose in light of the ongoing conflict with the northern states and the antislavery movement.
  4. The property had a ghostly feel about it.
  5. The aim is not to demonstrate what was typical, but rather to demonstrate what was possible—white dandies standing by and doing nothing while a black guy is tortured and executed in the Middle Ages.
  6. Cora’s resolve to be free is strengthened as a result of this.
  7. Readers who have avoided any promotional material for the book may be surprised to learn that this is not a strictly historical tale at this point.

Each of the states that Cora passes through offers a possible solution to the “black dilemma,” a different interpretation of how things might have turned out.

Axis tensions are running high between the Slave States and the Free States as the agricultural engine of the South grinds up human fuel and abolitionist campaigners in the north labor tirelessly to overcome fugitive slave laws.

The majority of colored people in the state had been purchased by the government in recent years.

Agents went to the major auctions to scout them.

They were not cut out for country living, despite the fact that planting had been their way of life and their family tradition.

The government gave exceptionally generous conditions and incentives to anyone who wanted to migrate to large cities, including mortgages and tax breaks.

In their new jobs as a nanny and a factory worker, Cora and Caesar are enjoying their newfound freedom.

Cora receives a new job as a part of a museum exhibit that is meant to depict the history and lifestyles of African-Americans, and she is thrilled.

Despite the fact that the orientation is sound in theory, her actual landing spot could not be more disastrous.

There is only one option for them: outlawing black people completely and replacing their labor with enslaved Irish and German labor.

As time goes on, slaves in Virginia are given a great lot of freedom, and their families are frequently maintained together, unless doing so would be difficult for their masters.

Cora takes sanctuary in Indiana, which is now a Free State, with a group of black farmers and homesteaders who live in a state of strained and resentful coexistence with their white counterparts.

Throughout the novel, he foreshadows significant events, recounts them up to the peak of the action, and then inserts a brief, seemingly unconnected chapter that provides a biography of a secondary character.

When it works, it is extremely captivating, if not infrequently annoying.

Except for a chapter dedicated to Doctor Stevens, a character who appears very briefly in the work and whose history is totally irrelevant to the remainder of the storyline, there are no other notable exceptions.

It’s also unclear why Whitehead chose to digress on distasteful practices that supplied cadavers to medical schools.

However, while it is easy to read “The Underground Railroad” as a straightforward tale that is well-written, it would be difficult to overlook the numerous references and symbols that are woven throughout the text.

The author Ta-Nehisi Coates argued in “Between the World and Me” that “it is conventional to kill the black body—it is legacy” in the United States.

The author writes to his son, “And now, in your time, the law has become a justification for stopping and frisking you, which is to say, for extending the attack on your body.” Whitehead responds in “The Underground Railroad” that “patrol job was hardly arduous labour.” “They apprehended any niggers they came across and demanded their identification cards.

Ajarry is seen here beating her children in the frightened hope that “they will follow all the lords who will come after them and that they will live.” Here we see a group of young males fighting amongst themselves because they have nowhere else to vent their wrath.

Here is the modern placed in its proper perspective, and the lines that connect the present to the past are exposed.

Anyone looking for a nonfiction version of “The Underground Railroad” can check out Carol Anderson’s “White Rage,” which recounts the historical cycle of black emancipation and white retaliation that has resulted in the current administration under Trump.

At first glance, South Carolina appears idyllic—how could it not?—but Cora soon understands that slavery has been replaced by new, more subtle kinds of tyranny, which she must confront.

The first time she feels fully free is when she arrives to a black communal farm in Indiana, but racial tensions are still simmering under the surface, ready to flare into flames at any moment.

The novel’s dismal, almost fatalistic tone is tempered with a sliver of optimism.

“Plantation justice was harsh and unwavering, but the world was indiscriminate,” Cora recalls vividly.

After learning from her mistakes, Cora continues her journey in quest of a spot where she may dwell in peace, complete with her own vine and fig tree.

Perhaps things will be better tomorrow.

At the end of the book, Whitehead makes no false promises, instead offering simply the confidence that the voyage will continue.

Abby Falck is a rebellious Vulcan adolescent who also happens to be an artist and a youth-services librarian in Chicago. is a blog where they discuss young adult literature.

Leave a Comment

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