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Analysis Of The Underground Railroad

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The Underground Railroad despite occurring centuries ago continues to be an “enduring and popular thread in the fabric of America’s national historical memory” as Bright puts it. Throughout history, thousands of slaves managed to escape the clutches of slavery by using a system meant to liberate. In Colson Whitehead’s novel, The Underground Railroad, he manages to blend slave narrative and history creating a book that goes beyond literary or historical fiction. Whitehead based his book off a question, “what if the Underground Railroad was a real railroad?” The story follows two runaway slaves, Cora and Caesar, who are pursued by the relentless slave catcher Ridgeway. Their journey on the railroad takes them to new and unfamiliar locations,…show more content…
“Two steel rails ran the visible length of the tunnel, the steel ran south and north presumably…” (Page 67). Despite the assumptions the real Underground Railroad was not a real train but it was simply a vast network of routes and people who helped escaped slaves on their way to freedom in the northern states or Canada. The passage on the Underground Railroad was fraught with danger. The slave or slaves had to make a getaway from their owners, usually by night. “Keep yo eye on the North Star” was the watchword; by following the North Star the runaways knew they were heading north. The purpose of his use of magical realism is to make the story more relevant to a reader’s existence. If Whitehead did not use realism, the story would not be as interesting and would not provide such a strong visual for the reader. Also, another falsehood found in the book is the Underground Railroad operating in the South. Mainly running in free States the Underground Railroad was primarily a Northern phenomenon. Typically fugitive slaves were on their own until they crossed the Ohio River or the Mason-Dixon Line, thereby reaching a free state. Once they crossed the line, the Underground Railroad could take effect. Throughout the North were well-established routes and conductors, and some informal networks that could move a fugitive from the abolitionists’ office or homes to various points north and west. In Whitehead’ novel the railroad was operating deep in the south and the conductor, Mr. Fletcher, that helped them escaped lived in Georgia. It was rather uncommon for the railroad to be running so deep in the south but this again was another strategy used to keep the story interesting and intriguing to the
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