What is the summary of the book The Underground Railroad?
- Book Summary. The Underground Railroad covers five primary periods in the life of Cora: When Cora’s mother, Mabel, runs away, Cora becomes a young outcast among the slaves of the Randall plantation.
What is the meaning of The Underground Railroad book?
The alternate history novel tells the story of Cora and Caesar, two slaves in the antebellum South during the 19th century, who make a bid for freedom from their Georgia plantation by following the Underground Railroad, which the novel depicts as a rail transport system with safe houses and secret routes.
Is the book 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.
Is Caesar from Underground Railroad dead?
While the show doesn’t show us what happens after their encounter, Caesar comes to Cora in a dream later, confirming to viewers that he was killed. In the novel, Caesar faces a similar fate of being killed following his capture, though instead of Ridgeway and Homer, he is killed by an angry mob.
Why is Underground Railroad 18+?
Graphic violence related to slavery, including physical abuse, rape. and other cruelty to humans. Characters are shown being whipped, beaten, and killed, and the blood and wounds are a point of emphasis. There are rape scenes in which overseers force slaves to procreate.
How old is Cora at the end of the Underground Railroad?
Cora is born a slave on the Randall plantation in Georgia. Her mother runs away when Cora is 10 or 11 years old, leaving her to fend for herself and become fiercely resilient and independent. Caesar, another Randall slave, recognizes these qualities and persuades her to run away with him.
Who is lander in Underground Railroad?
Lander is a well-educated and distinguished biracial man who travels the country giving political speeches. Just before Valentine farm is destroyed, he gives an impassioned speech advocating racial solidarity and the pursuit of freedom.
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.
Was Valentine farm a real place?
The article uses the novel’s example of Valentine Farm, a fictional 1850s black settlement in Indiana where protagonist Cora lands after her rescue from a fugitive slave catcher by Royal, a freeborn black radical and railroad agent.
Who is Colson Whitehead’s wife?
Inside of the tunnel, Cora faces an injured Ridgeway, overwhelmed by the weight of her past and her mother’s legacy. There, she shoots him three times, severing their cursed tie forever before heading back to Valentine Farm to see if anyone survived the massacre.
What happened to Polly in the Underground Railroad?
Jenkins’ show gives Mabel’s friend Polly a bigger role in Mabel’s flight. In the book, Polly dies by suicide after her baby is stillborn.
Can children watch the Underground Railroad?
What is The Underground Railroad age rating? The good news is that this is a series that young fans of the original novel will be able to enjoy. It’s officially given a TV-14 rating, which means it’s suitable for ages 14 and up. However, there may be some younger children who are mature enough to watch the series.
What happened to runaway slaves when they were caught?
If they were caught, any number of terrible things could happen to them. Many captured fugitive slaves were flogged, branded, jailed, sold back into slavery, or even killed. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 also outlawed the abetting of fugitive slaves.
Who was the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad?
Our Headlines and Heroes blog takes a look at Harriet Tubman as the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. Tubman and those she helped escape from slavery headed north to freedom, sometimes across the border to Canada.
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.
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).
- 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.
- And what do these get-togethers have to say about community, kinship, and happiness?
- What aspects of South Carolina’s enslavement are similar to those of slavery?
- What characteristics distinguish South Carolina from Randall?
- Her reading materials include a Bible and almanacs, which “Cora admired.
- 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.
- 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 return in this?
Why is Sam the only one that 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 delusion throughout the novel, and why is this particular moment so important for the actions 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 parallels and contrasts between the actual announcements and Cora’s version of them?
Knowledge and ideas are integrated in this process.
“That story, like so many that we tell about our nation’s past, has a tricky relationship to the truth: not quite wrong, but simplified; not quite a myth, but mythologized,” writes Kathryn Schultz in her article “The Perilous Lure of the Underground Railroad” in the New Yorker.
For what reason is it necessary to emphasize African Americans’ participation 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 method 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 conducting critical analysis and presenting findings from research on one of the topics 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.
- Social Theory, Sociology, “Settler Colonialism: An Introduction from the Perspective of Global Social Theory.” (E.
- The New York Times is a newspaper published in New York City.
- NPR’s “Fresh Air” program.
- Kathryn, “The Perilous Lure of the Underground Railroad” is a book about the Underground Railroad.
- Works of Spectacular Interest Podcast with a historically black cast.
- Ashley Bryan is a writer of children’s literature.
Ava DuVernay’s Thirteenth (film) Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Alex Haley (film), Joel C.
Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is a classic.
Promoting High Achievement Among African American Students, Young, Gifted, and Black (Young, Gifted, and Black), Theresa Perry is a woman who works in the fashion industry.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is located in Washington, DC.
Gregory Christie is a writer and poet from the United Kingdom.
Heather’s book, Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery, is a must-read for anybody interested in African American history.
Author of Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom, Heather A.
Monroe Work is the webpage for the Lynching Project.
Previously, she served as president of the New England Association of Teachers of English and as the National Council of Teachers of English’s Secondary Representative at-Large for the secondary division.
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 /
Colson Whitehead on ‘The Underground Railroad’: ‘There’s no rule about what I can write’
16 years passed between the publication of Colson Whitehead’s sixth novel, The Underground Railroad, and its publication in book form. After originally considering penning the narrative in 2000, the American author decided he wasn’t an accomplished enough writer to carry it off well. He made the decision to wait. It was only in 2016 that the creative and sympathetic historical book of Cora, an African-American slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia, and her escape to the North was eventually published, and it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for literature.
Whitehead paints a devastating portrayal of an era in American history via the cruelty of Cora’s existence on the plantation and her horrific yet ferociously determined struggle for escape, which is pursued at every turn by a terrifyingly ruthless slave catcher.
“Free blacks carried documentation of manumission or risked being delivered into the clutches of slavery; occasionally they were smuggled to the auction block nevertheless,” writes Whitehead of Cora’s experience hiding in an attic in North Carolina.
In an interview with Scroll, Whitehead said, “It’s not something I have to whack the reader over the head with; it’s already there.” He was speaking about his novel on the grounds of the Jaipur Literature Festival, which was taking place at the same time.
In terms of being interrogated, the terminology they used was similar to the language I’ve used when I’ve been pulled over by the police or handcuffed for simply being black in the wrong place at the wrong time.” The novel’s persistent sharpness has prompted a forthcoming movie adaptation by Barry Jenkins, the award-winning director of films such asMoonlight andIf Beale Street Could Talk, who will direct the adaptation.
- Additionally, Whitehead’s newest novel, The Nickel Boys, will be published later this year.
- The following are excerpts from an interview with the author: You’ve stated in the past that you were unhappy when you discovered that the Underground Railroad was not a real railroad, and you represented the Underground Railroad in your novel in the same way.
- There isn’t any kind of restriction on what I can write.
- It opened up a lot of opportunities for me to turn the metaphorical train into an actual train and to have each state that Cora travels through represent an other version of the United States.
- That childhood fantasy provided me with the chance to create a tale based on it for myself.
- The Nickel Boys, a historical novel that I recently finished, is a plain historical story.
Through the use of a fantastic structure such as The Underground Railroad, I could create my own historical reckoning, taking something that happened in the 19th century and something that happened in the twentieth century, such as the Holocaust or eugenics, and moving them around and putting them in conversation.
- According to one of the characters in The Underground Railroad, Cora must ride the rails “if you want to know what this country is all about, I always say, you have to ride the rails.” You, of course, conjured up a genuine subterranean train for the sake of writing this tale.
- Is there anything about the train network in the United States that you are particularly interested in?
- Elevators had a role in The Intuitionist.
- I was attempting to understand how technology alters our culture and our perception of ourselves.
- The train connects us from one shore to the other: from the East coast to the West coast.
- Surprisingly, the train is actually the least crucial element of the story of The Underground Railroad.
- It’s simply for the purpose of transporting Cora from one location to another.
However, if you break it down, railways appear in 20 percent of my works, so I’m not sure what you’re talking about!
Did you always envision it that way when you were initially thinking about the novel?
Slavery is extremely harmful to both men and women.
The reason you’re expected to produce children is because it implies more property for your master.
And I felt that was something worth looking into.
In addition, I had a string of male protagonists in a row, so I wanted to change things up.
So much violence is done on Cora by so many different individuals, but none of it feels gratuitous at any time in the story.
It is not, however, exploitation.
People perished on the plantation as a result of the cruel treatment they received.
And, hopefully, this isn’t a gratuitous remark.
It was necessary to include because it is a crucial component of the plot.
Was it physically and emotionally exhausting to be immersed in them for such a long time?
It was when I realized how much I would have to put Cora through in order to be realistic, and when I realized my own family’s history with slavery, that I was able to do all of my emotional heavy lifting, you know.
They were not murdered during the Middle Passage over the Atlantic or on the plantation, and they were able to have children as a result of their perseverance.
And it was quite difficult to follow up the novel with The Nickel Boys.
When I finished reading The Nickel Boys, I spent the next six weeks playing video games to distract myself from the experience.
It’s something she’s not even open to in the beginning of the novel, and she comes close to having it at the conclusion before having it ripped away once again.
By the end of the novel, everything takes place on Valentine farm, and we learn what happened to her mother, all in 15 pages.
It’s essentially an apology to Cora on my part.
The last lyric of the song is “she was never property,” and that’s basically me apologizing to my imaginary character for all of the horrific things I’ve put her through throughout the story.
Yes, they’re all from newspapers in North Carolina, which is appropriate.
You write in the book about a plantation owner that “cotton had made him a slave, too,” referring to the fact that cotton had made him a slave.
You should be aware that slavery is inextricably linked to capitalism.
The slave system is responsible for turning America into the economic powerhouse that it is today, and whether you’re a slave catcher, a slave master, a slave, or the man who puts the runaway slave advertisements in the newspaper, you’re all entangled in that system.
You write at various points in the book about black people who find themselves in tough situations turning on one another: “White guys eat you up, but coloured folk eat you up too.” Do you believe that a large number of narratives from that era tend to emphasize depiction as an unified whole?
There are black villains and black heroes, white heroes and white villains, and that’s just a small sample of the diversity of human characters available.
We’re all fallible, and we’re all capable of rising to the occasion on occasion, and failing on others.
Yes, without a doubt.
My first book is about elevator inspectors, which is not a realistic depiction of how black people live in the United States of America.
As a result, Richard Wright has been replaced by Ralph Ellison, who in turn has been replaced by James Baldwin.
Writing in the late ’90s and today, I don’t have to deal with the pressure of being represented.
We are the ones that represent ourselves.
Aside from the book, do you have any involvement with the film adaptation?
However, I am not a filmmaker.
But I’m quite thrilled about it.
We talked about the importance of not being gratuitous about violence when writing about it.
You should know that I had to conduct an interview with him before I provided permission.
“Slave movies?” he said.
To get started on The Nickel Boys, you lay aside a book that takes place in the present to work on it first.
Sometimes the answer is yes, and sometimes the answer is no.
But I write about race, and I write about pop culture, among other things.
What does winning the Pulitzer Prize mean to you?
It did, however, put me in a better attitude for the next year.
As opposed to the “easy books” that everyone else seems to be reading?
It’s always a challenge.
Writing Taking part in The Nickel Boys was difficult for me because I was traveling a lot, and I prefer to remain in one spot and have six months of leisure time when I’m not teaching.
After finishing The Underground Railroad, I could have taken a trip or returned to my job, which is what I enjoy doing. Instead, I chose to return to work. [email protected] is the best place to send your thoughts.
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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.
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.
In Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, Ralph Ellison Meets Stephen King
According to Colson Whitehead’s novel, the Underground Railroad is an actual underground railroad with concealed stops and steam locomotives operating along it. Slate contributed to this photo illustration. Photograph courtesy of TomasSereda/Thinkstock. Colson Whitehead’s novels have always been fascinated with the nature of work, with its ability to bring about both terrible drudgery and the illumination of deep truths. From Lila Mae Watson, the mystically inclined elevator inspector who was the heroine of 1999’s The Intuitionist, through to the professional poker players Whitehead met while writing his memoir of a foray into the world of professional poker, Whitehead’s characters have frequently sought out the deeper currents of the unconscious.
- His attitude to racing has always been indirect, despite his long-standing involvement.
- As a result, it’s possible that Whitehead would write about slavery in America at some point in the future, as he did in his new and already well acclaimed novelThe Underground Railroad.
- A cotton plantation in Georgia, where Cora is sixteen or seventeen at the time of the novel’s events, when conditions threaten to deteriorate from routine brutality to baroque sadism as a result of the arrival of a new owner, prompts her to flee.
- She travels on the Underground Railroad, which Whitehead reimagines as a true subterranean railroad with secret stops and steam engines chugging down the length of it.
- These exhibitions, like the railroad itself, have fantasy components, but anybody who is familiar with Whitehead’s history will see that the line between Whitehead’s fantasies and the fact is disturbingly blurred in places.
- At the time of his writing, both of these features of his work signified a divergence from the traditional expectations of what black American authors were expected to produce.
- All of those styles necessitated stringent realism, and few black authors, with the exception of Ralph Ellison, were able to prosper without embracing a melancholy seriousness that was uncompromising.
- It isn’t as polarizing as some others.
- At times in The Underground Railroad, the novel appears to be constrained by its responsibility to portray a historically accurate atrocity display and explain the precise meaning of the exhibit’s contents.
- Irony is no longer appropriate.
The truth of American racial relations must be explained in the most precise terms, again and over again, since so many people in this country are stubbornly unable to accept the reality of what is happening.
On Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad : On Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad is a novel by Colson Whitehead that follows the narrative of Cora, a fugitive slave who travels from state to state on railroad cars that are physically buried beneath the ground of the American South. A fellow slave called Caesar persuades Cora to flee the Georgia farm where she was born and journey north aboard the boxcar of a hidden subterranean railroad, which she discovers along the way. Ridgeway, the slave catcher, is on her trail, all the more desperate to get her because he was unsuccessful in apprehending her mother when she fled away years before.
Cora travels alone to North Carolina, where she hides in an attic for several months before being discovered and apprehended by the authorities.
Colson Whitehead is the author of this piece.
Fiction set during the antebellum period Published for the first time in 2016 Georgia is the major setting.
Topics covered include: freedom; the causes of violence; the difficulties of categorizing individuals as “good” or “evil; how the past shapes our present; and subtle kinds of racial injustice.
Among the most crucial features of the Underground Railroad are the following: In the first place, The Underground Railroad is unusual due to the realistic combination of historical fiction and fantasy that is included in it.
None of the characters ever explains where these tunnels may have come from or how they could have remained hidden for such a long period of time without being noticed.
While other sections of the novel are terribly genuine and accurate to history, other parts of the story are a satire on both.
The heinous cruelty exhibited against escaping slaves was based on actual events (and the Civil War did not put an end to this kind of racial violence).
The combination of fantasy and history pushes readers to reflect more deeply on the heinous acts that have occurred—and those that continue to occur—in the history of racial relations in the United States.
For example, many people believe that slavery is not such a horrible institution because of the less brutal version of slavery that Caesar experienced in Virginia.
Ethel believes herself honorable and caring since she aspired to be a missionary in Africa and because she reads the Bible to Cora, two of her younger sisters.
These and other instances throughout the book indicate that people who believe they are just “doing the right thing” and are not responsible for the ills of slavery are frequently nevertheless complicit in the continuance of slavery.
As Ridgeway points out to Cora, she has committed the murder of a white kid, so establishing her as a “murderer” in the eyes of the predominantly white town.
Ridgeway asserts that he is motivated by the same survival instinct as Cora is motivated by hers.
Ridgeway’s rationale, of course, does not stand up, as Cora points out: Ridgeway kills for money or convenience as well as for survival, as Cora points out.
Ridgeway does not appear to be totally wicked, and Cora does not believe herself to be purely nice either.
In the story, all of the characters are compelled to make moral decisions within the confines of a system that restricts their alternatives, a system that can occasionally render ethics and survival incompatible with one another.