Whitehead’s novel centers on a young slave girl’s life story. Cora, born and raised on a plantation in Georgia, is determined to escape before facing an even more brutal adulthood.
Whitehead configures a dark story into a compelling narrative by bringing the metaphorical Underground Railroad to life.
We learned about the horrors of the Antebellum Era as early as in elementary school. Since then, we have revisited the gruesome topic with varying degrees of maturity. This fictional book provides another account of possible life back then for enslaved people.
Our education on such a cruel time is limited for several reasons. The history is gruesome, and a lot of the details were heavily censored. Additionally, different school systems address the education of history differently.
When I visited Louisiana, I went to the Houmas House Plantation. This was one of the largest sugar plantations in the south, with hundreds of slaves. While we took a tour of the property, the tour guide rattled on about the architecture and interior design of the house, but never once acknowledged the large presence of slaves. I did research later, and apparently the current owner of the house doesn’t want the house to be weighed down by it’s horrendous history.
That’s what I think is most important about this book. There are many people who want this history buried and repressed. However, it is important to acknowledge the long history of slavery, and the best way to do that is experience as many perspectives as possible.