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The Underground Railroad
A magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's desperate bid for...
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How does the depiction of slavery in this book compare to other depictions in literature and film?

Created: 10/27/16

Replies: 10

Posted Oct. 27, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

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How does the depiction of slavery in this book compare to other depictions in literature and film?

How does the depiction of slavery in The Underground Railroad compare to other depictions in literature and film?


Posted Oct. 30, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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bestmartin

Join Date: 02/20/13

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RE: How does the depiction of slavery in this book compare to other depictions in literature and film?

In some ways it was similar. Certainly we saw some of it in "12 years a slave" and other movies and stories. For me, this book's depictions of slavery was more intense and more personal. Based on the way it was written, I felt more confronted with the horrors and more haunted by them. Going to sleep at night was often hard after reading.


Posted Oct. 31, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorianbc

Join Date: 04/25/11

Posts: 25

RE: How does the depiction of slavery in this book compare to other depictions in literature and film?

I agree! I found that I needed to read this book at a different point in the day. It is not a book to read right before sleeping. For me, this book reminded me of other books that I have read and movies that I have seen, yet the characters stand on their own.


Posted Nov. 01, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joycew

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 75

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RE: How does the depiction of slavery in this book compare to other depictions in literature and film?

I think it was very much like the other books and films, cruelty, treatment that is inhuman. I am amazed they can find so many sadistic people to manage these plantations.


Posted Nov. 01, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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jant

Join Date: 07/15/14

Posts: 20

RE: How does the depiction of slavery in this book compare to other depictions in literature and film?

I think the cruelty in the film, Twelve Years a Slave, is the closest to this novel. Although, it has been a few years since I have seen the film, the images are still with me. I think because this novel centered on Cora, the cruelty felt even more personal. The not-knowing when she would be captured again, what fates she would be dealt made the terror of slavery seem even more cruel.

This book is going to haunt me.


jan t
Posted Nov. 03, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 164

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RE: How does the depiction of slavery in this book compare to other depictions in literature and film?

I think until the film Twelve Years a A Slave, most white Americans of our era thought of slavery the way it was portrayed in Gone with the Wind: a few bad apples, but mostly a benign institution. Neither Mitchell's book nor the film version of it reflect the historical reality, either its horror or its complexity. While Uncle Tom's Cabin certainly showed another side, though even that was romanticized, few people read it today, and its film versions from the silent era don't seem to have gotten the same attention as the racist Birth of a Nation. Interesting that from the silent era to 1987, Uncle Tom was considered too controversial to film, and the made for TV film in that year didn't get much attention either.

I have read many slave narratives, including Twelve Years a Slave, and this novel does them justice, while putting them into a broader context. Also, where many slave narratives, despite being first person, don't give a strong sense of character or personal reflection, as a novelist, Whitehead is able to do just that with Cora, and Caesar, and Mabel, to make the historical reality more gripping -- and to make it relevant to our lives today, so we don't just bury it in the past. We need to feel the horror and connect that with some of the experiences of black Americans today, still struggling with racial violence, poverty and oppression.


Posted Nov. 03, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kdowney25

Join Date: 01/25/16

Posts: 48

RE: How does the depiction of slavery in this book compare to other depictions in literature and film?

Very well said, JLPen77! I agree!


Posted Nov. 05, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
celiaarnaud

Join Date: 04/18/12

Posts: 35

RE: How does the depiction of slavery in this book compare to other depictions in literature and film?

Yes, JLPen77, well said. I was thinking something similar. This is America's original sin, but we've whitewashed and airbrushed it in so many of our portrayals. So many of our cultural depictions have been through the lens of white eyes. And they've either made the whites so bad that of course none of us can see ourselves in them or they've made them so good that we have the good master-loyal slave trope. But more depictions are being done through the eyes of the slaves now. In film, we've got 12 Years a Slave, the new Birth of a Nation. And in drama, we've got Suzan-Lori Parks's multipart play Father Comes Home from the Wars.


Posted Nov. 06, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kellyo

Join Date: 09/15/16

Posts: 36

RE: How does the depiction of slavery in this book compare to other depictions in literature and film?

Some of the scenes of slavery in the book were similiar to scenes I have read in other books or seen in movies. The thing the author did so well was to show what the character was feeling and how the brutality affected them emotionally. The book gave me a better sense of the terror the slaves felt and how they had to "Walk on egg shells" around the slave masters.

I do agree that there are some watered down versions in literature/movies that made white slave owners look better than they actually were. I am sure some actual slave owners were better than others, but in order to keep people as slaves they had to break them and instill fear.


Posted Nov. 23, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marganna

Join Date: 10/14/11

Posts: 111

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RE: How does the depiction of slavery in this book compare to other depictions in literature and film?

This book depiction of slavery is very realistic & painful to read. Each film & book I've read/seen has impacted me in different ways. Because this book was so well written & I loved Cora & her fellow characters so much, I think its impact will have a lasting impression on me. I'm glad I had the opportunity to read & review this book. Congratulations, Colson Whitehead, for your National Book Award!


Posted Nov. 24, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pamelah

Join Date: 05/19/11

Posts: 24

RE: How does the depiction of slavery in this book compare to other depictions in literature and film?

The depiction of slavery in this book read like a time compressed, magical mystery tour via the underground railway of all of the poignant issues that slaves confronted. One of the issues that I thought the author expressed really well was uncertainty, and the fear that resulted from the uncertainty of of a slave's life.


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