The Underground Railroad

by Colson Whitehead

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How does Whitehead use Cora to represent black women of the time? What evidence is there that she is strong, courageous, and brave?

Cora represents black women of her time by being a slave with no rights, who in spite of her oppression is still fiercely brave and motivated. She shows immense strength, courage and bravery by escaping her owners, embarking on a journey into the unknown, and ultimately having to escape again in her quest for freedom.

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The unfortunate reality is that the lives of black women at this time in the Southern states of the USA were dominated by slavery. Cora is no exception. She was enslaved by the Randall family, who own a ranch and are abusive towards Cora, having previously shown Cora's mother the same abusive treatment.

There is plenty of evidence in this award-winning novel of Cora's bravery and strength. Despite having no desire—apart from the fact that she is being abused—to leave the Randall Plantation, she finds the inner strength to make a run for it with Caesar.

Throughout their journey through an underground railroad across the United States towards the freedom that can be found in the north, they are required to have eyes in the back of their heads. They are being sought by Ridgeway, a slave catcher who is notoriously good at his job.

Tragedy strikes along the way when Caesar dies as a result of the perilous conditions faced on the underground railroad. Cora, however, perseveres on her quest. Even after Ridgeway eventually captures her, she escapes and continues her bid for freedom. It seems that her strength and bravery pay off in the end. The novel concludes with Cora on her own, traveling towards freedom in a wagon train.

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