The Underground Railroad By Colson Whitehead

1374 Words6 Pages
Justin Cohen AP Literature & Composition Mr. Gordon 5 September 2017 The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: An Analysis (1) Toni Morrison’s Beloved takes place after the Civil War during the Reconstruction era, when the violent oppression of the black race continued, with flashbacks to the horrific trauma of the early 19th century slavery period. In Margaret Atwood’s review of Beloved in The New York Times dated September 13, 1987, many of the events in this novel appear to parallel the themes of unimaginable brutality against slaves noted as well in The Underground Railroad. While both novels focus on slaves being indiscriminately hung from trees, burned beyond recognition, or raped, the physical violence in Beloved is taken to…show more content…
He took pleasure in measuring the heads of slaves in an effort to demonstrate their primitive, animal-like qualities and mental inferiority when compared to whites. In addition, both novels took liberties in fictionalizing aspects of their narratives – the presence of a real underground railroad in The Underground Railroad vs. the appearance of the ghost of Sethe’s dead daughter, Beloved, in Beloved. (2) Perhaps the most effective and dramatic aspect of The Underground Railroad was Mr. Whitehead’s decision to present characters with little or no background information and then detail that information in dramatic fashion in later chapters devoted exclusively to that character. This decision by the author to “jump around in time and space” was especially noteworthy with respect to Cora’s mother, Mabel. Throughout the novel, we are led to believe that Mabel had run away from the Randall plantation while purposely leaving her young daughter behind to suffer as a slave. Cora is portrayed repeatedly as resenting her mother for not taking her when she had escaped. “Once Mabel ran, Cora thought of her as little as possible. After landing in South Carolina, she realized that she had banished her mother not from sadness but from rage. She hated her.” (98) Further, despite extensive searches by the slave catcher, Ridgeway, no evidence of
Get Access