What It Means To Be Free

Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad is a literal and figurative exploration of the historical Underground Railroad of mid-19th century America. Whitehead takes the reader on-board a literal underground railroad that takes slaves from one unknown destination to the next. The railroad serves as a metaphor for the harrowing realities encountered by slaves fleeing bondage. The story follows a runaway slave named Cora as she travels from Georgia to Indiana. Throughout her journey, she witnesses how slaves who yearn for freedom and liberty often end up bloodied, beaten, and dead.

The Underground Railroad is not just any modern slave narrative. The message it sends is fierce, audacious, and grand. Colson Whitehead holds a mirror to modern-day America and asks us what it means to be free.

“The world may be mean, but people don’t have to be, not if they refuse.” – Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad


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