Prepare to reimagine American history in Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad.” The menace of slavery is all too familiar to the protagonist, Cora, as she risks death and punishment by running away to the North. Instead of providing his readers with the traditional view of the Underground Railroad, Whitehead introduces us to an actual railroad that runs underneath the states.
Each state has its own perils to bare. Whitehead creates characters that open up new worlds of what it meant to be a conductor or engineer- like how their motivations might not be as pure as originally perceived. Whitehead also introduces his audience to how each individual found their way to the Railroad and why they are there as Cora makes her way up North. Each new experience forces Cora to reevaluate what slavery means, how it exists as this malignant cancer upon the Union and what it means to feel American when she isn’t even considered a citizen.
Although it is a work of fiction, Whitehead demonstrates that slavery has and will continue to always remain a part of American history. There is no way to erase the brutalities that slavery inflicted upon a large part of the American population, which still exists in forms of inequalities, today. How we ought to grapple with the future is the question the book poses to us. Whitehead leaves it to us to find the answer.
Whether you’re looking for a book that delves deep into rediscovering identity or an exciting story that details Cora’s escape from the slave-catcher Ridgeway, “Underground Railroad” fulfils both. It might not be the story you expected - nevertheless, the “Underground Railroad” is a story that you should read, especially since the United States is continuing to try to find its own identity.