What Is The Book The Underground Railroad About? (Perfect answer)

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.

  • Colson Whitehead ’s The Underground Railroad, the writer’s sixth novel, is an especially taut and searing narrative, following the story of Cora, who flees slavery and a life picking cotton on the Randall plantation for a perilous journey on the mythical titular railroad.

What is the message of the Underground Railroad?

-Harriet Tubman, 1896. The Underground Railroad—the resistance to enslavement through escape and flight, through the end of the Civil War—refers to the efforts of enslaved African Americans to gain their freedom by escaping bondage. Wherever slavery existed, there were efforts to escape.

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.

What is the synopsis of the Underground Railroad?

“The Underground Railroad” is the story of Cora (Thuso Mbedu), a slave on a Georgia plantation in the mid-1800s who escapes with another slave named Caesar (Aaron Pierre) and finds her way to the Underground Railroad, reimagined here as an actual rail system complete with conductors, engineers, and trains.

Why was it called the Underground Railroad?

(Actual underground railroads did not exist until 1863.) According to John Rankin, “It was so called because they who took passage on it disappeared from public view as really as if they had gone into the ground. After the fugitive slaves entered a depot on that road no trace of them could be found.

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 there an Underground Railroad during slavery?

During the era of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, places, and people that helped enslaved people in the American South escape to the North. The name “Underground Railroad” was used metaphorically, not literally.

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.

How did the book Underground Railroad end?

After this interlude, Ridgeway forces Cora to lead him to the local Underground Railroad station, which Royal had shown her after they arrived at Valentine. She fights back at the entrance and leaves Ridgeway to die, propelling herself down the long, dark tunnel on a handcar.

What happened at the end of the Underground Railroad book?

Eventually, the farm is burned and many people, including Royal, are killed in a raid by white Hoosiers.

How does the Underground Railroad novel end?

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.

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.

Did Colson Whitehead win the Pulitzer Prize for the Underground Railroad?

Potential fixes for COVID-related GI issues But unlike the other three, Whitehead’s wins are consecutive efforts, his last book, “The Underground Railroad,” having garnered a Pulitzer in 2017.

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.

Amazon.com: The Underground Railroad (Pulitzer Prize Winner) (National Book Award Winner) (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel: 9780385542364: Whitehead, Colson: Books

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and National Book Award-winning novel by Colson Whitehead, the #1 New York Timesbestseller, is a breathtaking tour de force charting a young slave’s exploits as she makes a desperate attempt for freedom in the antebellum South. Now there’s an original Amazon Prime Video series directed by Barry Jenkins, which is available now. 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.

  • Things do not turn out as planned, and Cora ends up killing a young white child who attempts to apprehend her.
  • The Underground Railroad, according to Whitehead’s clever vision, is more than a metaphor: engineers and conductors manage a hidden network of rails and tunnels beneath the soil of the American South.
  • However, underneath the city’s calm appearance lies a sinister conspiracy created specifically for the city’s black residents.
  • As a result, Cora is forced to escape once more, this time state by state, in search of genuine freedom and a better life.
  • During the course of his tale, Whitehead skillfully re-creates the specific terrors experienced by black people in the pre–Civil War era, while smoothly weaving the saga of America from the cruel immigration of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the contemporary day.

Look for Colson Whitehead’s best-selling new novel, Harlem Shuffle, on the shelves!

The True History Behind Amazon Prime’s ‘Underground Railroad’

If you want to know what this country is all about, I always say, you have to ride the rails,” the train’s conductor tells Cora, the fictitious protagonist of Colson Whitehead’s 2016 novelThe Underground Railroad, as she walks into a boxcar destined for the North. As you race through, take a look about you to see the genuine face of America.” Cora’s vision is limited to “just blackness, mile after mile,” according to Whitehead, as she peers through the carriage’s slats. In the course of her traumatic escape from servitude, the adolescent eventually understands that the conductor’s remark was “a joke.

  1. Cora and Caesar, a young man enslaved on the same Georgia plantation as her, are on their way to liberation when they encounter a dark other world in which they use the railroad to go to freedom.
  2. ” The Underground Railroad,” a ten-part limited series premiering this week on Amazon Prime Video, is directed by Moonlight filmmaker Barry Jenkins and is based on the renowned novel by Alfred North Whitehead.
  3. When it comes to portraying slavery, Jenkins takes a similar approach to Whitehead’s in the series’ source material.
  4. “And as a result, I believe their individuality has been preserved,” Jenkins says Felix.
  5. The consequences of their actions are being inflicted upon them.” Here’s all you need to know about the historical backdrop that informs both the novel and the streaming adaptation of “The Underground Railroad,” which will premiere on May 14th.

Did Colson Whitehead baseThe Underground Railroadon a true story?

“The reality of things,” in Whitehead’s own words, is what he aims to portray in his work, not “the facts.” His characters are entirely made up, and the story of the book, while based on historical facts, is told in an episodic style, as is the case with most episodic fiction. This book traces Cora’s trek to freedom, describing her lengthy trip from Georgia to the Carolinas, Tennessee and Indiana.) Each step of the journey presents a fresh set of hazards that are beyond Cora’s control, and many of the people she meets suffer horrible ends.) What distinguishes The Underground Railroad from previous works on the subject is its presentation of the titular network as a physical rather than a figurative transportation mechanism.

According to Whitehead, who spoke to NPR in 2016, this alteration was prompted by his “childhood belief” that the Underground Railroad was a “literal tunnel beneath the earth”—a misperception that is surprisingly widespread.

Webber Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons While the Underground Railroad was composed of “local networks of anti-slavery people,” both Black and white, according to Pulitzer Prize–winning historianEric Foner, the Underground Railroad actually consisted of “local networks of anti-slavery people, both Black and white, who assisted fugitives in various ways,” from raising funds for the abolitionist cause to taking cases to court to concealing runaways in safe houses.

Although the actual origins of the name are unknown, it was in widespread usage by the early 1840s.

Manisha Sinha, author of The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition, argues that the Underground Railroad should be referred to as the “Abolitionist Underground” rather than the “Underground Railroad” because the people who ran it “were not just ordinary, well-meaning Northern white citizens, activists, particularly in the free Black community,” she says.

As Foner points out, however, “the majority of the initiative, and the most of the danger, fell on the shoulders of African-Americans who were fleeing.” a portrait taken in 1894 of Harriet Jacobs, who managed to hide in an attic for nearly seven years after fleeing from slavery.

Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons “Recognizable historical events and patterns,” according to Foner, are used by Whitehead in a way that is akin to that of the late Toni Morrison.

According to Sinha, these effects may be seen throughout Cora’s journey.

According to Foner, author of the 2015 bookGateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad, “the more you know about this history, the more you can appreciate what Whitehead is doing in fusing the past and the present, or perhaps fusing the history of slavery with what happened after the end of slavery.”

See also:  How Did Slaves Escape Through The Underground Railroad? (Solved)

What time period doesThe Underground Railroadcover?

“The reality of things,” in Whitehead’s own words, is what he aims to portray in his work, not just the facts. On addition, while the story is anchored in historical facts, all of his characters are made up, and the book is written in episodic style, just like the book’s characters. (The book recounts Cora’s flight to freedom, describing her lengthy trek from Georgia via the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Indiana. ) Each step of the journey presents its own set of hazards that are out of Cora’s control, and many of the people she meets suffer horrific ends.

According to Whitehead, who spoke to NPR in 2016, this alteration was prompted by his “childhood belief” that the Underground Railroad was a “real tunnel beneath the earth,” which is a fairly frequent mistake about the Underground Railroad today.

Webber, completed in 1893.

While the Underground Railroad was composed of “local networks of anti-slavery people,” both Black and white, according to Pulitzer Prize–winning historianEric Foner, the Underground Railroad actually consisted of “local networks of anti-slavery people, both Black and white, who assisted fugitives in various ways,” from raising funds for the abolitionist cause to taking cases to court to hiding runaways in safe houses.

No one knows where the name came from, but it was widely used by the early 1840s, according to historical records.

Manisha Sinha, author of The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition, argues that the Underground Railroad should be referred to as the “Abolitionist Underground” rather than the “Underground Railroad” because the people who ran it “were not just ordinary, well-meaning Northern white citizens, activists, particularly in the free Black community.” They assisted runaways, particularly in the northern states, where railroad activity was at its peak.

As Foner points out, however, “the majority of the initiative, and the most of the danger, fell on the shoulders of African-Americans who were fleeing” an image of Harriet Jacobs taken in 1894, after she escaped slavery and took refuge in an attic for over seven years By way of Wikimedia Commons, this picture is in the public domain.

By way of Wikimedia Commons, this picture is in the public domain.

Before writing his novel, the author conducted extensive research, drawing on oral histories provided by survivors of slavery in the 1930s, runaway ads published in antebellum newspapers, and accounts written by successful escapees such as Harriet Jacobs and Frederick Douglass, as well as contemporary sources.

While Douglass managed to make his way north by leaping on a moving train and pretending to be a free man, Jacobs spent almost seven years hiding in an attic; Cora manages to escape enslavement by hiding on a railroad track and spending many months in the attic of an abolitionist.

What real-life events doesThe Underground Railroaddramatize?

In Whitehead’s envisioned South Carolina, abolitionists provide newly liberated people with education and work opportunities, at least on the surface of things. However, as Cora and Caesar quickly discover, their new companions’ conviction in white superiority is in stark contrast to their kind words. (Eugenicists and proponents of scientific racism frequently articulated opinions that were similar to those espoused by these fictitious characters in twentieth-century America.) An inebriated doctor, while conversing with a white barkeep who moonlights as an Underground Railroad conductor, discloses a plan for his African-American patients: I believe that with targeted sterilization, initially for the women, then later for both sexes, we might liberate them from their bonds without worry that they would slaughter us in our sleep.

  1. “Controlled sterilization, research into communicable diseases, the perfecting of new surgical techniques on the socially unfit—was it any wonder that the best medical talents in the country were flocking to South Carolina?” the doctor continues.
  2. The state joined the Union in 1859 and ended slavery inside its borders, but it specifically incorporated the exclusion of Black people from its borders into its state constitution, which was finally repealed in the 1920s.
  3. In this image from the mid-20th century, a Tuskegee patient is getting his blood taken.
  4. There is a ban on black people entering the state, and any who do so—including the numerous former slaves who lack the financial means to flee—are murdered in weekly public rituals.
  5. The plot of land, which is owned by a free Black man called John Valentine, is home to a thriving community of runaways and free Black people who appear to coexist harmoniously with white residents on the property.
  6. An enraged mob of white strangers destroys the farm on the eve of a final debate between the two sides, destroying it and slaughtering innocent onlookers.
  7. There is a region of blackness in this new condition.” Approximately 300 people were killed when white Tulsans demolished the thriving Black enclave of Greenwood in 1921.
  8. Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons According to an article published earlier this year by Tim Madigan for Smithsonianmagazine, a similar series of events took place in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, which was known locally as “Black Wall Street,” in June 1921.
  9. Madigan pointed out that the slaughter was far from an isolated incident: “In the years preceding up to 1921, white mobs murdered African Americans on hundreds of instances in cities such as Chicago, Atlanta, Duluth, Charleston, and other places,” according to the article.

In addition, Foner explains that “he’s presenting you the variety of options,” including “what freedom may actually entail, or are the constraints on freedom coming after slavery?” “It’s about. the legacy of slavery, and the way slavery has twisted the entire civilization,” says Foner of the film.

How doesThe Underground Railroadreflect the lived experience of slavery?

“How can I construct a psychologically plausible plantation?” Whitehead is said to have pondered himself while writing on the novel. According to theGuardian, the author decided to think about “people who have been tortured, brutalized, and dehumanized their whole lives” rather than depicting “a pop culture plantation where there’s one Uncle Tom and everyone is just incredibly nice to each other.” For the remainder of Whitehead’s statement, “Everyone will be battling for the one additional mouthful of food in the morning, fighting for the tiniest piece of property.” According to me, this makes sense: “If you put individuals together who have been raped and tortured, this is how they would behave.” Despite the fact that she was abandoned as a child by her mother, who appears to be the only enslaved person to successfully escape Ridgeway’s clutches, Cora lives in the Hob, a derelict building reserved for outcasts—”those who had been crippled by the overseers’ punishments,.

who had been broken by the labor in ways you could see and in ways you couldn’t see, who had lost their wits,” as Whitehead describes Cora is played by Mbedu (center).

With permission from Amazon Studios’ Atsushi Nishijima While attending a rare birthday party for an older enslaved man, Cora comes to the aid of an orphaned youngster who mistakenly spills some wine down the sleeve of their captor, prompting him to flee.

Cora agrees to accompany Caesar on his journey to freedom a few weeks later, having been driven beyond the threshold of endurance by her punishment and the bleakness of her ongoing life as a slave.

As a result, those who managed to flee faced the potential of severe punishment, he continues, “making it a perilous and risky option that individuals must choose with care.” By making Cora the central character of his novel, Whitehead addresses themes that especially plagued enslaved women, such as the fear of rape and the agony of carrying a child just to have the infant sold into captivity elsewhere.

The account of Cora’s sexual assault in the novel is heartbreakingly concise, with the words “The Hob ladies stitched her up” serving as the final word.

Although not every enslaved women was sexually assaulted or harassed, they were continuously under fear of being raped, mistreated, or harassed, according to the report.

With permission from Amazon Studios’ Atsushi Nishijima The novelist’s account of the Underground Railroad, according to Sinha, “gets to the core of how this venture was both tremendously courageous and terribly perilous.” She believes that conductors and runaways “may be deceived at any time, in situations that they had little control over.” Cora, on the other hand, succinctly captures the liminal state of escapees.

  1. “What a world it is.
  2. “Was she free of bondage or still caught in its web?” “Being free had nothing to do with shackles or how much room you had,” Cora says.
  3. The location seemed enormous despite its diminutive size.
  4. In his words, “If you have to talk about the penalty, I’d prefer to see it off-screen.” “It’s possible that I’ve been reading this for far too long, and as a result, I’m deeply wounded by it.
  5. view of it is that it feels a little bit superfluous to me.
  6. In his own words, “I recognized that my job was going to be coupling the brutality with its psychological effects—not shying away from the visual representation of these things, but focusing on what it meant to the people.” “Can you tell me how they’re fighting back?

History of the United States Based on a true story, this film Books Fiction about the American Civil War Racism SlaveryTelevision Videos That Should Be Watched

The Underground Railroad: Plot Overview

It relates the narrative of Cora, a girl who escapes from the Georgia farm where she and her family had been slaves for three generations, and joins the Underground Railroad. Having been transported to the United States from Africa on a slave ship, Cora’s grandmother Ajarry passed away after decades of toiling in the fields of the Randall plantation. Cora’s mother, Mabel, fled away, abandoning Cora, and Cora is on a quest to find out what happened to her mother, no matter where she travels. Cora is harassed by her other slaves since she has been left without her mother to defend her.

  1. Finally, she is able to escape with the help of another slave, Caesar.
  2. There is an underground railroad in this tale, and it is a real railroad with stops underneath fields and residences.
  3. The journey from Georgia to South Carolina establishes a pattern for telling a series of tales about Black experience not just during slavery but throughout American history by creating a series of stories about Black experience.
  4. Cora and Caesar are housed, fed, and given work in this facility.
  5. Then, after working as a housemaid, Cora is sent to work as a “actress” at a museum that presents a very false and favorable portrayal of both African and slave life.
  6. Then they find out that the slave catcher, Ridgeway, has arrived in pursuit of them and has captured them.
  7. Cora’s next trip is North Carolina, where the situation for Black people, whether they are in the country legally or illegally, is significantly worse.
See also:  When When Did Frederick Douglass Discover The Underground Railroad?

A gruesome display takes place in the town square every Friday night, and Cora is forced to dwell in a small hiding area in the Wells’ attic, where she witnesses it.

Friday Festivals are held in towns all over the state, and they are held every week.

At long last, Cora becomes unwell and is forced to be cared for at the Wells’ house.

Ridgeway, a slave catcher, is present with the patrollers, and he binds Cora to his cart and drags her away, while Edith and Martin Wells are hung from an oak tree.

Cora is transported across the state by Ridgeway and his two accomplices, a violent guy named Boseman who wears a necklace made of human ears and an eccentric Black youngster named Homer.

They’ve also taken in a runaway named Jasper, who is continually singing hymns to himself.

Even the white settlers have been driven from their homes.

However, due to a yellow fever epidemic in the area, they are unable to leave the area until the flames have been extinguished.

Once they have eaten supper and informed Cora of Caesar’s death, they decide to camp out in the woods just outside of town for the night.

At that moment, the man with glasses comes with two other men, all of whom are armed.

Cora hops on Ridgeway’s back, and the two of them manage to immobilize him.

Royal, the guy with spectacles, is a conductor on the subterranean train who transports Cora to the Valentine farm in Indiana, where she will be married.

It is at this time that she and Royal begin to fall in love, and she also grows close to her housemate Sybil and Sybil’s daughter, Molly.

An elaborate banquet is held on the farm every Saturday night, after which there will be lectures, poems read aloud, singing and dancing.

After a buggy ride and picnic, Royal leads Cora to an abandoned home with an underground train station underneath it, where she may explore the station.

No one has any idea where it is going.

While on his way to California, Sam stops by the Valentine farm and informs Cora that Terrance Randall has been found dead and that no one is looking for her any longer.

They set fire to the buildings while the occupants leave the scene.

Eventually, Cora is apprehended by Ridgeway and Homer who order her to transport them to an underground railroad station.

As she was returning to take care of Cora, she was struck by a deadly snake, and her corpse was dragged into the marsh, where it perished.

Meanwhile, Homer is tending to Ridgeway and Cora is pumping the handcar through the tunnel.

As she travels along the trail, she comes across three covered wagons, the last of which is driven by an elderly Black man named Ollie.

He feeds her and informs her that he will be traveling to St. Louis in order to join a wagon train bound for California. She follows him and is intrigued by his narrative, which he will undoubtedly share with her along the road.

Colson Whitehead: ‘To deal with this subject with the gravity it deserved was scary’

In the midst of writing a novel about the digital economy, Colson Whitehead was struck by the phantom of an old thought. Despite the fact that the 47-year-old had been working as a critic for the Village Voice since his twenties and has subsequently produced five novels and two non-fiction works, the author was in what he describes as “the constantly melancholy attitude” that is his default setting while writing. In his words, “I normally have two or three ideas flying around in my head.” “During my spare time, the one I end up thinking about the most is the one I end up pursuing,” says the author.

  1. The novel Whitehead eventually wrote was The Underground Railroad, which tells the narrative of Cora, a 15-year-old slave who escapes from a plantation in Georgia through the use of the Underground Railroad.
  2. The rights to the show have been purchased by Barry Jenkins, the director of the Academy Award-winning filmMoonlight, and Whitehead has experienced a makeover over the past six months as a result.
  3. So that’s something fresh, and it’s a wonderful feature.” Will the gloomy mood return once more?
  4. “I’m assuming that once I get into a new book, my body temperature will return to its normal average.” However, I have been thoroughly enjoying it.

Putting money down for my children’s college education, purchasing new clothing, and generally walking around in a pleasant attitude are some of my plans.” At a cafe near Whitehead’s home in midtown Manhattan, where he lives with his wife, Julie Barer (also a literary agent), and their little son, who is three years old, we talk about his writing.

  • As one of four children of wealthy entrepreneurs, Whitehead grew up in Manhattan with his mother and father.
  • He and his brother occupied a position of luxury that was deemed so inaccessible to African Americans that the parents of white students began to wonder whether he and his brother were indeed African kings.
  • “Posh,” he says, referring to the word for “posh.” “Upscale; bourgeois ideals,” says the author.
  • The Hamptons were a little too wealthy for me after I went to college, and they didn’t seem to match the principles I was adopting in my late teens, so I moved away.
  • He laughs as he recalls his discovery of the restaurant after September 11, 2001: “it was a wonderful, quiet spot to hang out.” Success on a very different level.
  • Photograph courtesy of PR Whitehead’s parents were the owners of an executive recruiting agency, and they were less than thrilled when he declared his wish to pursue a writing career.
  • He had been a “goody-goody” up until he got to Harvard, according to Whitehead, and had fulfilled all of his parents’ expectations of him.
  • Then he went to college and changed his mind.
  • Irritatingly, he says, “I was available to hang around.” “At the time, the Department of English was a highly orthodox institution.
  • So I would enroll in courses in the theatre department – not for performing, but for studying plays – as well as in the African American studies department, which at the time was in a state of disarray, prior to the arrival of Henry Louis Gates.
  • I had a game of cards.

But it was there that I first met James Joyce and Thomas Pynchon, as well as a slew of other great authors and works that I continue to turn to for inspiration and structure today.” In 2014, Whitehead published The Noble Hustle, a poker memoir that was adapted from a magazine piece based on the seven days he spent in Las Vegas participating in the World Series of Poker.

  • It boasts one of the finest subtitles ever: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death, to name a few examples.
  • “It’s a new elevator, newly pressed to the tracks, and it’s not built to fall this rapidly,” Whitehead writes.
  • John Updike and Stephen King are among the authors of commercial literary fiction, as are Norman Mailer and Judith Krantz.
  • So that meant reading Tom Wolfe and The Bell Jar, as well as horror and comic books – all of which inspired me to create.
  • Her books were always released on the 10th of December, so we knew exactly what to purchase her for Christmas every year.
  • To be really honest, that felt like a lot to me.

When my first book was eventually published and they were able to hold it in their hands and read reviews of it, they finally stopped nagging me to find a “real job.” The concept for The Underground Railroad came to Whitehead quite early in his career – in 2000, just after the publication of his first book.

  1. According to Whitehead, those difficult years were instructional.
  2. However, if you were in the paper, you were able to write for a variety of areas, and they were willing to give you a fair go provided you were in the building on a daily basis and underfoot.
  3. “Even if it turned out to be dumb.” It was clear that his teenage self-assurance had its limits.
  4. He was certain that he intended to write about the conduits that slaves used to escape from farms in the southern United States to those in the northern United States.
  5. His main character, he believed, would be a young and unmarried man, as he himself was at the time of writing.
  6. The notion “seemed like a decent idea when I came up with it in 2000,” he recalls, “but I didn’t think I could pull it off at the time.” “I didn’t consider myself to be a good enough writer.
  7. As a result, I steered clear of it.

And then, a few of years ago, I began to wonder if perhaps the frightening book was the one you were intended to be reading.” The heroine was no longer a guy in his mid-20s, but a teenage girl named Cora, who had followed in her mother’s footsteps as a runaway.

In this section, Whitehead concentrates on the relationships between slaves, which are typically romanticized in more superficial representations of slavery.

And that include thinking about people who have been traumatized, brutalized, and dehumanized throughout their whole lives, as well.

Everyone is going to be fighting for the one additional mouthful of breakfast in the morning, fighting for the one extra piece of property they can get their hands on.

Cora is a fictional character created by author Charles Dickens.

Those two incidents, in my opinion, said volumes about who she was and what she would do to protect herself.” While researching for the book, Whitehead spent a significant amount of time combing through oral history archives, in particular the 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery collected by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s, at a time when the last survivors of slavery were in their 90s, which is incredible considering their age.

  1. He claims that the information he received about slavery was pitifully inadequate while he was in school.
  2. I believe things have improved significantly.
  3. Picture taken by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for TIME Whitehead also desired to write about parents and children in a more generalized manner.
  4. Cora’s passion is fueled by her affection for and rage at her mother, Mabel.
  5. And both of those factors distort Cora’s perspective and cause her to behave in a variety of ways throughout the novel.
  6. What happened to Mabel is the book’s big shock, and the tension around it is what pushes most of the story’s plot forward.
  7. Answer: Of course he did not feel uncomfortable.
  8. Although the stakes were high in this novel – if she was detected, she would be put to death – I believe it necessitated a different approach than in some other works due to the nature of the situation.
  9. Moreover, I believe that the narrative, like comedy or the type of narrator you employ, is simply a tool that you employ for the appropriate story at the right moment.” Whitehead is recharging his batteries right now.
  10. He’s not in a rush at all.
  11. “I take pleasure in my downtime.

Even when I’m not working, I put in my time, but I believe my wife was concerned when we first started dating that I sat around all the time.” And after that, what? He cracks a grin. “And then the self-loathing comes in, and I have to get back to work,” says the author.

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.

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The prompts are organized according to the standard that they most directly support.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. Activity in the Classroom Make a list of all the ways in which Cora fights against the dehumanization that comes with servitude.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cora travels the majority of the way by herself.

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

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

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

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

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

Gulliver’s Travels is the title of the book.

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

Who was the one who started it?

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

Is there a clear message about risk and 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 illusion throughout the narrative, and why is this particular moment so important for the acts that follow?

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

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

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

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

What are some of the parallels and contrasts between the actual announcements and Cora’s version of them?

Knowledge and ideas are integrated in this process.

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

For what reason is it 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 book to support your reasoning as you create an artistic depiction that places Cora inside that lineage, stretching the history all the way to the current day.

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

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

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

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

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 books.

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.

Kimberly N.

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 /

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