The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead Summary Study Guide

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Even slaves can be mean to other slaves. Cora is treated badly by other slaves, forced to live in "Hob", the bad cabin. She has her plot of land taken away from her by another slave and gets raped by other slaves. Whitey is not the only villain in this story.

Slavery was a mainstream part of southern society. As Cora saw from looking out of her peephole in the attic in North Carolina, there were big crowds at regular rallies in the park supporting slavery. This wasn't some fringe movement, it was supported by many people in the state.

White people risked their lives to help escaped slaves. We were told stories of underground railroad helpers who were hung or burned to death for helping slaves escape.  As Cora is led away, captured, in North Carolina, she sees the people who hid her, Martin and Ethel, tied to a tree, having rocks thrown at them.

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Runaway slaves make dumb decisions. After escaping from Georgia, a slave state, Cora actually agrees to stay in South Carolina, another slave state. True, she has the relative safety of living at a sympathetic white establishment, but bounty hunters can take her away at any time and she has no rights. It's a very dumb decision. Equally dumb was hiding in the attic in North Carolina for several months. She would have been better off trying to escape at night. She didn't, and she got caught.

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