The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead Summary Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Underground Railroad

Plot Summary Part 3

Ridgeway tells Cora how Caesar, her fellow runaway slave, was torn to pieces in a South Carolina jail. Cora also had another fellow escapee named Lovey who I have not mentioned up until now because she made such a small impact on the story, and  Ridgeway tells Cora that Lovey is dead too.

Ridgeway tells Cora that he is upset that her mother, Mabel, escaped. Ridgeway is also unaware that Mabel was eaten by a snake. A lot of people are angry at Mabel; if only they knew she had been eaten by a snake, they all would have been much happier.

Boseman, Ridgeway's assistant, takes off Cora's chains at night so he can enjoy some v_ginal sex with her. But Ridgeway wakes up and at the same time two black guys, Royal and Red, both with guns, interrupt the sexing. After a battle Boseman is shot and Ridgeway is tied up and Cora is free to go with the armed black guys, who are another part of the underground railroad.

Click here to see the rest of this review

If you're wondering why the black guys didn't kill Ridgeway, it's because they were told not to kill. In fact, Red is dropped from the underground network for even having a gun. They believe in gentleness.

Cora went with them, but first kicked Ridgeway in the face a few times. Boba Fett sho ain't gonna like that.

Cora is taken to a farm in Indiana for escaped slaves. It is run by a guy named Valentine who people think is white but really he is part black.  Cora goes to school, has a job on the farm, and in the evening listens to music and poetry recitals. They create a library full of black books written by black people, and everyone has repeated intellectual orgasms, as if this is paradise. Look, a library with black books! Look, someone reads poetry in the evenings! Amazing! If this were a movie this would be the time you would go and take a long bathroom break. Nothing much happens until the end when ole Whitey comes and attacks the farm.

Right before that happens, however, Royal shows her a tunnel under the farm. It is a big tunnel, with a railroad track. Royal has no idea who dug it and it goes on for miles. No one in the underground railroad has bothered to check it out. Can you believe this?

Ok, back to the present. Whitey attacks, and Boba Fett (Ridgeway) is with them. He forces Cora to show him the tunnel. As they go down the stairs she struggles and they fall. When they hit the ground Ridgeway suddenly becomes retarded. He sees Cora sitting there but just ignores her and starts talking to Homer about random things.  There is absolutely no explanation for his behavior.

Cora used this very convenient character lapse to escape, taking a handcar down the tunnel. It's a long journey. Oh, I forgot to mention, Sam told her that her Massa, Terrance, had died while having sex with a prostitute. But Ridgeway still wanted to bring Cora back to the plantation on general principle.

All of a sudden we get a flashback to Mabel, Cora's Mom. Mabel escaped one night but changed her mind and decided to return to Massa. Bad move! On her way back she gets eaten by a large snake and sucked into the swamp. The end, for Mabel!

Back to the present. When Cora gets out of the tunnel, after a long time, she encounters some white people on a cart who are nice to her and offer her a ride. The white people are going California. Figuring that these white people are nice, and that there is no slavery in California, Cora goes with them.

Click below for more about The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Plot pg1 Plot pg2 Plot pg3 Plot pg4
Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian