What Does Cora Think Of Poetry In Underground Railroad? (TOP 5 Tips)

What happened to Cora in the Underground Railroad?

  • Cora’s fate is never determined, but the book ends on an optimistic note, with Ollie offering her food as she joins him on the road to the north. The The Underground Railroad quotes below are all either spoken by Cora (aka Bessie) or refer to Cora (aka Bessie).

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.

Where does Cora like to spend most of her time in Indiana?

Cora spends a lot of time reading in the Valentine farm library. One night John Valentine, the owner of the farm, arrives and visits with her. She says she is afraid Mingo’s plan to reduce the population on the farm means she will have to leave.

What did Royal do to Cora?

Of course Cora carries them with her. This exchange occurs at the tail end of a date in which Royal has taken Cora horseback riding and taught her how to shoot a gun.

Who was Cora Randall?

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

Will there be underground railroad Season 2?

The Underground Railroad Season 2 won’t come in 2021 Whether the series is renewed or not, we’ve got some bad news when it comes to the release date. The Underground Railroad Season 2 won’t come in 2021.

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 many children did Cora’s grandmother have?

Ajarry is Cora’s grandmother and Mabel’s mother. She was born in Africa before being kidnapped and enslaved slave in America, where she is sold so many times that she comes to believe she is “cursed.” She has three husbands and five children, of which Mabel is the only one to survive.

What happens to Cora in 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.

What happened to Lovey in the Underground Railroad?

She secretly decides to join Cora and Caesar’s escape mission but she is captured early in the journey by hog hunters who return her to Randall, where she is killed by being impaled by a metal spike, her body left on display to discourage others who think of trying to escape.

What happened to Royal in Underground Railroad?

In the end, Royal is killed and a grief-stricken Cora is caught again by Ridgeway. Ridgeway forces Cora to take him to an Underground Railroad station, but as they climb down the entrance’s rope ladder she pulls Ridgeway off and they fall to the ground.

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.

Where does Cora live in South Carolina?

Cora lives in a dormitory for unmarried black women. White women run both the dormitory and the attached school, where Cora attends.

Is Underground a true story?

Underground’s stars say the same. So while Underground is not based on any specific real people, it proves that you can still be very faithful to history without following the events of a single person’s life.

On Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad : Character Analysis of Cora

Ajarry Cora’s grandmother, who was stolen from Africa and sold as a slave in the American South, finally arriving at the Randall farm, is the subject of this story. Mabel Cora’s mother, who abandoned her daughter when she was 10 or 11 years old and fled to another country. Mabel was never apprehended, leading everyone to believe that she had successfully crossed the border into Canada. In truth, though, she had a change of heart only a few hours after leaving the plantation and attempted to return to the grounds.

JamesJockey is an old slave who says that it is his birthday on a regular basis.

Lovey Lovey is a little slave girl who is one of Cora’s closest companions on the Randall farm.

When the three is ambushed, Lovey is apprehended and taken back to the Randall plantation, where she is murdered.

  1. James Randall is a professional baseball player.
  2. Due to kidney disease, he passes away, leaving Terrance with his half of the plantation.
  3. Terrance inherits half of the Randall plantation after his father’s death, and when James Randall dies, Terrance becomes the only heir.
  4. Following Cora’s escape, he becomes obsessed with apprehending her.
  5. An Irishman named Connelly is in charge of the Randall plantation, and he takes pleasure in locating “mistresses” among the young slave ladies.
  6. Chester In the course of dancing, Chester, a young slave on the Randall farm, accidently stumbles into Terrance Randall and is punished as a result of it.
  7. Anthony the Giant Big Anthony, a slave who tries to flee the Randall farm after James’s death, is apprehended, tortured, and then burnt alive in front of an audience of witnesses.

Garner, a widow from Virginia, was Caesar’s first owner and was responsible for teaching him to read.

Fletcher, thank you for your time.

He then transports them to the next stop on the subterranean railroad.

Originally from South Carolina, Sam is a station agent for the underground railroad who also works as a bartender.

Sam continues to work on the underground railroad, and he finally reunites with Cora on the Valentine farm, where they were previously separated.

Cora’s instructor at the South Carolina school for colored women, where she is pursuing her degree, is Miss Handler.

Fields Cora’s supervisor.

Aloysius Stevens collaborated with a group of grave robbers to provide cadavers to the university’s medical school.

Stevens is a South Carolina doctor who tries to persuade Cora to undergo voluntary sterilization.

Martin, a reluctant station agent for the underground railroad in North Carolina, keeps Cora in his attic for months until she is discovered by a member of the railroad.

Ethel Wells was a woman who lived in the United States.

Ethel had a childhood desire of going to Africa as a missionary.

Jamison is a North Carolina town official that is in charge of public executions.

Jasmine is a young slave who was Ethel’s childhood companion when she was younger.

Boseman is a slave hunter who collaborates with Ridgeway until he is killed by Red, one of Royal’s comrades.

Ridgeway purchased him and promptly released him, but Homer is adamant in his refusal to leave Ridgeway.

Red When Royal rescues Cora, he is accompanied by another someone who fires a shot at Boseman.

Georgina is a schoolteacher who works at the Valentine agribusiness.

Jimmy is an escaped slave who lives on the Valentine farm with his family.

Sybil Molly’s mother and Cora’s cabinmate John Valentine, a light-skinned Ethiopian who is an abolitionist and the proprietor of the Valentine farm, was born in the United States.


Elijah Lander’s full name is Elijah Lander.

While he is giving a speech at the Valentine farm, he is shot and killed by an enraged white crowd.

The farm, he fears, is becoming too dangerous and insulting to white people, and he opposes the acceptance of fugitives like Cora into the community.

Cora is offered a ride by Ollie, an elderly black man headed to St. Louis and subsequently to California, after she emerges from her final station on the Underground Railroad.

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.

  • His new work, “The Underground Railroad,” is as far far from the zombie story as it is possible to get.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Meet Cora, a teenage slave who works on a cotton farm in Georgia.
  • 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.
See also:  What Were The Passengers Of The Underground Railroad? (Suits you)

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

Students in ENGL 350: 21st Century African-American Literature The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead, have written a blog post on their behalf. For a link to the catalog, please click here. Undergraduate Institution: PS3573.H4768 U53 2016 is the call number. Uni High Fiction is the setting for this story. W587u is the call number for fiction. The work of Colson Whitehead It relates the narrative of Cora, a young girl who escapes slavery by way of an underground railroad that has been reinvented as an actual underground railroad.

  • As Cora matures throughout the novel, she reflects on her history, present, and future in order to unearth truths about the potential of Blackness in America and the world.
  • Whitehead is fearless and honest, reminding readers of the physical, mental, and economic abuse that Black women are subjected to in the United States, which the country accepts and supports.
  • The choices made by Whitehead in terms of temporality and fantasy inside a piece of historical fiction are outstanding in their own right.
  • Besides the fact that it contains valuable lessons, The Underground Railroadis a book that screams for discussion.
  • Whitehead provided me with language that let me better comprehend and articulate my personal experiences as a Black girl growing up in America.
  • Colson Whitehead is an American author and poet.

The Underground Railroad Chapter 10: Indiana Summary and Analysis

Cora finds herself again at a schoolhouse, this time surrounded by youngsters who are far more advanced in their letter formation than she is. Georgina, the instructor, is originally from Delaware. Cora and Georgina are initially antagonistic toward one another, but after a few months on the Valentine farm, the two become friends. Cora has also formed a bond with Molly, a ten-year-old girl who lives with her mother in a cabin on the property, where Cora spends her days. The two of them join the throngs of people gathered around the barbecue: a large Saturday roast was slated for that evening, which would be prepared by Jimmy, an elderly farmer who had escaped to the farm from North Carolina.

  • Molly and her mother, Sybil, had escaped from a ruthless master some years before.
  • They take up their sewing to do as they wait for dinner to be served.
  • She has not received any information about what happened to her own mother, Mabel: when she first came on the Valentine farm, she inquired of everyone she met to see whether they were familiar with her.
  • That evening, a potluck dinner is hosted outside the large multi-purpose meeting building.
  • The farm is home to over a hundred individuals, including around fifty children, which is a significant amount.
  • During the meeting, Gloria Valentine serves as the moderator while her husband, John, is in Chicago meeting with a bank representative to renegotiate a loan for the farm.
  • He paid for her freedom, and the two were married nearly shortly after.

Mingosi sits in the front row, advocating for a reduction in the number of runaways taken in by the Valentine farm in order to lessen the risk of white vengeance against them.

Sybil and Cora, on the other hand, are not fond of or trust him.

He writes poetry, and Cora doesn’t like for it, nor does she care for the dance that follows.

She departs the festivities and returns to her hut in the woods.

Cora has been anxious about him while he has been out on a mission with the Underground Railroad for a couple of days.

Cora receives a gift from Royal, which is a newly released almanac, which he pulls from his luggage.

Elijah Lander, a free black man from the North who had received an education, delivered a speech to the farm’s occupants about the challenge of finding one’s place in the world after slavery.

They went on a picnic in a meadow to relax.

On the way back, Royal takes the buggy down a side lane to show her an ancient, abandoned Underground Railroad station that had been abandoned years before.

Ridgeway and the dying Boseman were shackled to the wagon and kept blinded while they journeyed to the Tennessee station of the Underground Railroad, where they were to be executed.

He was reared in Connecticut by freeborn parents who had moved there from New York City when he was young.

He happened to meet Eugene Wheeler, a well-known white abolitionist lawyer, by coincidence and promptly became his assistant.

It was while on his most recent railroad expedition in Tennessee when he came face to face with Cora.

Royal informs her what she may anticipate from the Valentine farm when they are riding on the freshly painted train that transported them out of Tennessee.

The pair kept her freedom as well as their marriage a secret from the public.

A few days later, a fugitive called Margaret showed up at his door, and she died of a fever a few days after that.

His land was transformed into a station on the Underground Railroad.

White immigrants were drawn to Indiana’s unpopulated area by the promise of a better life.

The political conflicts among the town, as well as the white settlers’ rising disdain for the black farm, were not included in Royal’s summation of events.

Cora gradually became used to the rhythms and labors of the farm throughout the first month.

Sama arrives at Cora’s door one day when she is working on the farm.

Sam intends to travel to California in the near future.

In his dying days, he grew obsessed with catching Cora, increasing the amount of money he was willing to pay for her capture.

Cora inquires of Sam about Ridgeway, who has become a social pariah since Cora’s departure from Tennessee.

Sam stays long enough to take part in the corn shucking bee, which he enjoys.

Royal informs Cora that she is now free as a result of Terrance’s death, and that no family member would look for her in the same manner he did.

The evening draws to a conclusion with Mingo taking first place in the shucking bee.

Cora spends a lot of time in the library, and she occasionally brings Molly with her.

John Valentine comes to the library with her one day and they become fast friends.

Over the last few months, the number of racist outbursts from white settlers near the property has grown.

When Cora realizes that Valentine is fatigued, she calls out to him.

Cora is moved to tears by the gift.

As she expresses her regret for allowing herself to be raped, Royal assures her that her suffering is not her fault, and that her adversaries will all face justice at the appropriate time.

In the meeting house the following evening, they take up a position in the first row, right close to Mingo and his family.

The speeches begin, with Valentine serving as the emcee, and he seems uneasy.

They must safeguard their ties with white people if they are to continue their mission for black uplift and advancement.

He contends that they must proceed as a group to achieve success.

See also:  How Did The Underground Railroad Affect Slaves In Reaching Their Dreams To Freedom? (Perfect answer)

They must make every effort to keep the miracle going.

He shoots Royal three times in the back as he runs up to him and approaches.

Cora sobs, her head resting on her lap as she clutches Royal’s body.

Cora runs out of the meeting place, looking for someone she recognizes. Ridgeway jumps on her and drags her away. In the background, Homer smiles with Cora and informs Ridgeway that he overheard Royal describe a tunnel of the Underground Railroad while standing by his side.


This chapter is extremely important in the novel because of the way it depicts the concept of freedom. Throughout the previous chapters, readers have followed Cora as she journeys through calamity after catastrophe in her pursuit of freedom and independence. We also learn about her hopes and desires for the future, which include the unnamed face of a future spouse, children, and a peaceful house. Cora discovers a certain amount of independence on the Valentine farm, where she and the other members of the Valentine family labor together for the sake of the community.

  1. Each and every person’s effort is essential.
  2. Every single one of these responsibilities occurred on the Randall plantation as well.
  3. Cora comes to discover that labor may be a lovely thing.
  4. However, Cora’s role in this free society remains a source of consternation for the time being.
  5. Trauma has this impact on the body.
  6. She is unable to relax now, despite the fact that she is at a location where she should be able to do so.
  7. The farm’s doomed future is likewise predicted in gloomy fashion throughout the chapter.

He hints that she might need to use it in the future, implying that there may come a day when Cora would be forced to run once more.

Even the book itself alludes to the farm’s doom, referring to the tragic meeting as the “last gathering” of the farm ahead of time (279).

Despite the pain she has endured, her identity as a stray is beginning to disappear as time passes.

Cora and Royal are shown holding one other in Cora’s cabin bed, which is a sweet sight.

It is through her voice that Ajarry and Mabel come to life once more.

Despite the fact that the Valentine farm, as well as Cora’s blossoming romance with Royal, are eventually destroyed, this period is critical in Cora’s recovery from her trauma.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

I have a strong dislike to reading about or hearing about torture. I also despise slasher films and violent violence in films, especially if it is depicted in great detail. In order to get through the first few chapters of Colson Whitehead’s incredible new novel, The Underground Railroad, in which runaway slaves from a Georgia plantation are apprehended and subjected to unfathomably brutal and disgusting punishments, I sweated and squirmed my way through the first few chapters. While I’d like to believe that not every pre-Civil War plantation owner was a full-on sadistic psychopath, I can’t help but wonder if the overseers, who were in charge of the most direct management of the enslaved men and women, weren’t men who had self-selected for the job because they were men capable of unflinching cruelty.

  • The answer is that you terrify them.
  • The good news is that I’m not being held captive or having bodily parts cut from me or being roasted alive.
  • Nonetheless, I’m painfully aware that this is precisely why I should read this book; all excellent storytellers transcend reality and transport us to another world, but some of them also modify us for the better.
  • Cora has made it clear that she will not be running.
  • She also knows that no one has ever been successful in evading the bounty hunters who are tracking them.
  • However, life on the plantation is a living horror that cannot be described.
  • Taking a companion, Cora’s acquaintance Lovey, the three of them flee under the cover of night, making their way to the house of a friendly white man thirty miles away.

Two of them manage to get away.

Cora and Caesar are astounded to discover that not only does the Underground Railroad exist, but that it is an actual railroad that has been carved out of the red Georgia clay in subterranean tunnels.

Cora relishes the fact that she is no longer plagued by misery for the first time in her life.

Just as she begins to settle into her newfound tranquility, the city’s placid veneer is lifted long enough for her to catch a glimpse of the deliberately impersonal animosity beneath the surface: not all is as it appears in this place.

She is on the run once more.

The author also sheds light on the diversity of qualities that people display when they are exposed to evil, whether it is subtle or overt.

In every race, there are elements of benevolence and elements of barbarism.

There’s a love that can’t be measured.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to hear Colson talk about the book’s creation, and I wish I had taken notes.

For the language alone, the book is worth reading, but much more so for the complexity of the narrative and the magnificent, shattering, mind-blowing whirlpool of emotions you’ll be subjected to throughout the novel.

When you see it, you are inspired to be a better person and want the world to be a more peaceful place.

HERE* When you purchase a book through the link provided, the reviewer will get 4 percent – 10% of the purchase price, which will subsequently be contributed in full to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation.

Through indiebound.org, you may also find a listing for your local independent bookshop.

The Underground Railroad

Listed in the following directories: Cora is a slave who works on a cotton farm in Georgia as a domestic servant. Cora’s life is a living nightmare for all of the slaves, but it is particularly difficult for her since she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans, and she is about to become womanhood, which will bring her much more suffering. 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.
  • At each stop on her voyage, Cora, like the heroine of Gullivers Travels, comes face to face with a different planet, proving that she is on an adventure through time as well as space.
  • 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.
Judges Citation

A new novel, The Underground Railroad, further establishes Colson Whitehead’s reputation as one of our generation’s most adventurous and innovative authors. In this gripping narrative of escape and pursuit, elements of fantasy and counter-factual are combined with an unvarnished, tragically true account of American slavery. In the cause of our shared interest in freedom and dignity, Whitehead revisits the horrific barbarities of our nation’s history. He has provided us with an enthralling tale of the past that is tremendously connected with our own day.

Page not found

You are attempting to access a page that either does not exist or has been relocated. You can find what you’re searching for by using the drop-down menus or the search box.


  • You are attempting to access a page that either does not exist or has been relocated. Please use the menus or the search box to locate what you are searching for. Thank you for your cooperation.

**Sundays are closed.

Telephone Numbers

During library hours, please call

  • The main phone number is 508-222-0157, while the number for the children’s room is 508-222-7820.
  • The APL wishes you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! The library will be open on December 13, 2021! The date is October 21, 2021. A poet laureate for the town of Attleboro is sought. The date is October 8, 2021. This week’s NEA Big Read is in Attleboro, which is honoring STORIES. The National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read will take place on October 5, 2021, with activities for the whole family. 30th of September, 2021

We at the APL wish you a happy holiday season. The library will be open on December 13, 2021. The 21st of October, 2021 Attleboro is in need of a Poet Laureate. on the 8th of October in the year 2021 In honor of STORIES Week, the NEA Big Read is taking place in Attleboro, MA. A day of celebration for the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read on October 5, 2021. the 30th of September in the year 2021


  • Your library contains a plethora of materials for people of all ages who are interested in learning more about the moon landing and outer space. PM Registration for the next High Tech Club meeting, which will take place on Wednesday, July 17th, is currently available through the 8th of July. Participants must call in advance to register. AM The APL welcomes notable guests on the 5th of July, every year. Dear Principal Cateon, thank you very much for joining us this morning and reading stories with us! 09:36:32 a.m. EST The third of July, 2019


  • @attleboropl

Site Settings

The long opening chapter of Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad is meticulously, even studiously authentic in its portrayal of the Underground Railroad. Using straightforward, but also irresistible and affecting language, he tells the story of his heroine, Cora, beginning with the history of her grandmother, who was kidnapped from Africa and eventually ended up on a Georgia plantation after much circumlocution (that is, after being sold and re-sold), and progressing to the life of Cora’s mother, who managed to escape when Cora was a child, and finally to Cora herself.

See also:  How Many Slaves Did The Underground Railroad Safe? (Solution)

In particular, Whitehead’s unrelenting attention to detail in depicting life on the plantation—and in especially, life among the slaves in the insular, predatory group that develops—is commendable.

Edward, Pot, and two hands from the southern part were the ones who pulled her.

The Hob ladies stitched her back together.” This is only one of several instances throughout the section in which the sheer weight of what it means to live your entire life under the burden of being considered inhuman is portrayed without ornamentation or even much signposting, as is the case here.

  1. But, of course, if you’ve heard of the Underground Railroad, it’s likely that this isn’t the information you’ve received about it.
  2. Cora is shocked out of a dreary kind of complacency about her lot by a harsh beating, and she accepts the invitation of another slave, Caesar, to accompany him on an escape journey.
  3. A short flight of steps led to a tiny platform.
  4. This structure had to have been twenty feet tall, with walls clad in dark and light colored stones laid in an alternating pattern on the outside.
  5. The rails were discovered by Cora and Caesar.
  6. According to legend, the steel flowed south and north, seemingly emanating from an unimaginable source and heading towards a miraculous destination.

In fact, Whitehead’s first novel, The Intuitionist, was set in a world where elevator inspectors were considered a prestigious and tradition-bound group, who were suspicious of any new member who was not only a black woman but also adhered to the newfangled philosophy of “intuitive” elevator inspection.

  • In The Underground Railroad, something comparable is taking place right now.
  • According to Cora’s initial conductor, the Underground Railroad depicted in the novel does not have a definite route or a guaranteed pathway to freedom.
  • “The difficulty is that you may choose one location over another depending on your preferences.
  • You won’t know what awaits you until you reach the top of the hill.” As a result, Whitehead sets himself up for a type of grim picaresque, with Cora and Caesar experiencing life as fugitive slaves in several states as they strive to find their way to safety and happiness in the United States.
  • Even still, as one of the characters points out, both of these stories are about guys who, at the end of the day, are wanting to go home; but, for Cora and Caesar, home is a hell they must flee.
  • It is only until that confirmation arrives that the novel comes into focus as a whole, though.
  • The tonics that the hospital provided, on the other hand, were little more than sugar water.

“Do they believe you’re assisting them?” Sam went to the doctor with his question.

The research, Bertram assured him, was “quite essential.” ‘Understand how a disease spreads, the course of an illness, and how we might be able to find a treatment.’ While going on and off the Underground Railroad, Cora is not traveling through space so much as she is moving through history.

Cora finds what at first appears to be friendliness and liberal-mindedness, but which later exposes itself to be self-serving paternalism in South Carolina.

Other attitudes, such as sexual hostility and violent natures, have you dealt with successfully?

Bertram recognized as a special phobia of southern white males.” Obviously, this does not imply that the Underground Railroad’s plot is as simple as having Cora hop from one time period to another.

The next chapter describes Cora’s employment as a model for a display room in a newly opened museum of American history.

The situation she finds herself in—grateful for the easy work but aggravated by the way it whitewashes the brutal, backbreaking labor she used to perform—echoes a modern complaint by reenactors in actual historical sites, as well as the broader discussion of how American history education tends to downplay the brutality of slavery and perpetuate the myth of happy, well-treated slaves.

This approach has the potential to make The Underground Railroad appear to be a programmatic piece of fiction—and, to be clear, I’m not convinced it rises to that level of critique—and that is a criticism worth making.

It is certainly coincidental that Whitehead has a character whom Cora meets muse that “Black hands built the White House, the seat of our nation’s government” just a month after Michelle Obama made the same observation in a speech to the Democratic convention, but it also speaks to the book’s need to be current.

  • This isn’t inherently a negative thing, especially in light of Whitehead’s immense abilities as a writer and the assurance with which he executes his unique device, which are both impressive.
  • There is no need for this to take place; Corona, despite her flaws, is a lovely creature, resilient but also terribly broken, amazing but yet prone to the same stresses and traumas as everyone else.
  • One of Cora’s defining traumas is the fact that she was abandoned by her mother when she fled, and she is never able to forgive her mother for thus betraying her.
  • Mabel raised her eyes, but she did not see her daughter there.

Generally speaking, The Underground Railroadis unsparing and unflinching in its portrayal of the psychological toll of participating, even unwillingly, in the system of slavery, whether it’s Cora’s plethora of lingering traumas, over the things that were done to her and the things she’s done, or the breakdown of even those slaves who appear inured to the hardships of slavery (“They joked and they picked fast when the bosses’ eyes were on them and they However, even while these arguments are often well-made, they never feel like they are the main purpose of the tale, and this is especially true in the case of Cora.

  1. Cora’s journey, by its very nature, cannot have a definitive end point.
  2. Whitehead manages to give the novel a satisfactory climax without exposing his plan with an elegance that is, by that time, obvious, but as a result, Cora’s journey loses much of its intensity as a result of this.
  3. It’s a dilemma that I’ve been more conscious of in recent years, particularly in the context of Holocaust literature, and I believe Whitehead is battling with it in The Underground Railroad.
  4. When it comes to debating a genuine evil that has blighted and claimed the lives of millions, can art exist just for its own sake, or does it have to have a purpose, whether educational or political, in order to exist?
  5. In addition to being clever, Whitehead’s choice—using the fantastic to separate his story from the rules of storytelling and, in doing so, conveying the point that while slavery has been abolished, it is still with us—is very motivating.

However, it also leaves The Underground Railroad with a frigid sensation. It’s a great piece of art, and despite this review, I’m still having difficulty describing and summarizing it. But it’s also a film that I can’t say I really adore.

The Underground Railroad

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.

About This Book

Cora is a young slave who works on a cotton farm in Georgia as a young girl. A social pariah even among her fellow Africans, she is on the verge of becoming womanhood, when she will face much greater difficulties. In order to take advantage of the opportunity presented by Caesar, a slave who has lately come from Virginia and encourages her to accompany him on the Underground Railroad, she jumps at the chance. The Underground Railroad, according to Colson Whitehead’s clever invention, is more than a metaphor: engineers and conductors manage a hidden network of genuine rails and tunnels beneath the Southern soil.

The narrative of our nation is interwoven throughout Whitehead’s superb recreation of the terrors of the antebellum age, which spans the violent abduction of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the current day.


1. How does the portrayal of slavery in The Underground Railroad relate to previous representations of slavery in literature and film? What effect did the scenes on Randall’s plantation have on you as a reader, and how did the writing influence you? The corruption and immoral practices of institutions such as doctor’s offices and museums in North Carolina, which were intended to aid in the ‘uplift’ of the black community, were widespread. What aspects of Cora’s struggles in North Carolina parallel those that the United States is currently dealing with today?

What role do you believe tales play in Cora’s and other travelers’ experiences on the underground railroad, in your opinion?

“Of course, the prize in this case was the subterranean railroad.



What are your first impressions?

“If the white guys would let it.” What is it about this that is so powerful, both in the novel and today?

What are your thoughts about Terrance Randall’s ultimate fate?

What are your thoughts on Cora’s mother’s choice to flee the country?

When things are going well, Whitehead produces emotional instability in the reader: when things are going well, you become comfortable before an unexpected catastrophe strikes.



Is there anything about it that reminds you of another piece of literature?

Do you think you have a better idea of what it was like to be a slave now?

Why do you believe the author opted to depict a physical train in his or her work?

What influence did this component of magical realism have on your understanding of how the true underground railroad functioned, if at all? Do you think The Underground Railroad has changed the way you think about the history of America, particularly during the period of slavery and abolitionism?

Leave a Comment

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