The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

"The Underground Railroad" is a historical fiction novel written by Colson Whitehead and published in 2016. The book is known for its imaginative and powerful reimagining of the Underground Railroad as a physical underground network that helps enslaved people escape to freedom.

Plot Overview:

The novel follows the journey of Cora, an enslaved woman on a Georgia plantation, as she escapes from her life of brutal oppression. Cora is approached by Caesar, another enslaved man, who invites her to join him in an attempt to escape using the Underground Railroad, a literal network of tunnels and tracks beneath the ground.

As Cora and Caesar embark on their dangerous journey, they encounter different states and landscapes, each with its own challenges and dangers. The novel delves into the horrors of slavery, the complexity of the relationships between enslaved individuals and their oppressors, and the various ways in which people resist and fight for their freedom.

The Underground Railroad itself serves as a central metaphor for both the literal escape route and the broader struggle for liberation and justice.


1. Freedom and Oppression: The novel explores the concept of freedom and the lengths to which individuals will go to escape oppression and seek a better life.

2. Race and Identity: The characters' experiences highlight the impact of race on identity and the challenges of finding a sense of self and belonging.

3. Resilience and Courage: The characters' determination and courage in the face of danger and adversity are central themes.

4. Social and Moral Consequences: The novel examines the moral choices faced by characters and the broader social consequences of actions and decisions.

5. Historical and Contemporary Parallels: While set in the 19th century, the novel's themes resonate with issues of systemic racism and social injustice that continue to be relevant today.


"The Underground Railroad" received widespread acclaim for its innovative approach to historical fiction and its exploration of the legacy of slavery. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2017 and has been praised for its lyrical prose, vivid characters, and unflinching portrayal of the brutality of slavery. Colson Whitehead's reimagining of the Underground Railroad as a literal network underscores the deep desire for freedom and the resilience of the human spirit. The novel has sparked important conversations about history, race, and the ongoing struggle for justice and equality.

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