The first time I read The Underground Railroad, I thought it was a real railroad due to the author’s ability to drag me into the story as if I was living it myself.
But when I read it the second time before writing this review, I now understand that it may have been a true-life story of some of the enslaved people’s struggle to escape the cruelty that rained upon them from the hands of those that believed that it's their right to own and use another person whichever way they choose, among those that possess this ownership mindset were those who felt like it’s their moral duty to help the owned escape from their owners.
Were those help to escape slavery worth it in a world where the hue of one’s skin determines his or her value? That’s a question that I asked myself as I read through the journey of Cora, an outcast among slaves, the main character of the story. Cora received the idea of fleeing the cotton plantation where she was born when Caesar, another slave told her about escaping to a free and fair world up in the North.
Cora’s determination and hunger for freedom fueled her long race to freedom while Ridgeway, a zealous slave-catcher chased her across America' South and into the North, not only to deliver the slave to her owner but to gratify his own ego, and obsession for Cora and her mother who eluded him years before.
Colson Whitehead took us through the perilous voyage that many slaves embarked many decades ago.
My own take away from the story is how the oppressed runs from one oppressor to another for freedom. The struggle of Cora to freedom can be related to that of our people from Africa that are embarking on the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe, a voyage that has claimed the lives of thousands in recent years. The difference is that Cora’s story is that of a slave fleeing from the iron fist of slavery, and that of today’s migrants is that of a free people fleeing into degradation in search of ‘’greener pasture.’’ But both stories are about running into the unknown based on words of mouth and the hope for a brighter day.
This is a must-read book for all that are interested in the struggle of black people to attain physical, economic, spiritual, and mental freedom.