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The Underground Railroad
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How do you respond to the slave-catcher, Ridgeway? Does his relationship with the boy Homer change your view of him?

Created: 10/27/16

Replies: 12

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

Join Date: 10/15/10

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How do you respond to the slave-catcher, Ridgeway? Does his relationship with the boy Homer change your view of him?

How do you respond to the slave-catcher, Ridgeway? Does his relationship with the boy Homer change your view of him?


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 do you respond to the slave-catcher, Ridgeway? Does his relationship with the boy Homer change your view of him?

He was despicable; I think he enjoyed controlling Homer and thought it ironic that this black boy was his slave.


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

Join Date: 10/15/14

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RE: How do you respond to the slave-catcher, Ridgeway? Does his relationship with the boy Homer change your view of him?

Ridgeway was a sadist - he appeared to be a man who enjoyed inflicting pain for its own sake. Homer seems like another unfortunate under his control and while Ridgeway was - to some degree - kind or permissive with him, Homer was still under Ridgeway's control. Ridgeway symbolizes pure evil in this novel.


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 do you respond to the slave-catcher, Ridgeway? Does his relationship with the boy Homer change your view of him?

I thought he was the epitome of true evil. He represented the lowest form of human - profiting from the degradation of human beings. No different from human traffickers today. It was ironic that the only friend he had was African American. The obsession Ridgeway and Terrance had with Cora was interesting - she had bested them both. It was appropriate Ridgeway (I hope died) in the Underground Railroad.


jan t
Posted Nov. 01, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jeannew

Join Date: 04/23/11

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RE: How do you respond to the slave-catcher, Ridgeway? Does his relationship with the boy Homer change your view of him?

I agree that Ridgeway was pure evil and a sadist. I don't think he cared about slavery one way or the other; he just liked hurting people and this was a socially acceptable way to do it. I'm conflicted about his relationship with Homer. I don't understand it. I'm interested to know what other people thought.


Posted Nov. 02, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
barbm

Join Date: 02/04/16

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RE: How do you respond to the slave-catcher, Ridgeway? Does his relationship with the boy Homer change your view of him?

Ridgeway made me cringe because he was so cruel. Sadist is a great descriptor of him. His enslavement and humiliation of Homer made me angry. I don't think Homer really understood all that was going on. ..


Posted Nov. 02, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

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RE: How do you respond to the slave-catcher, Ridgeway? Does his relationship with the boy Homer change your view of him?

No, my opinion of Ridgeway is not changed by his willingness to accept Homer's attachment to him, purely for his own convenience and ego, making him into a slave owner without having to buy a slave -- and he obviously had no problem with slavery. I agree with the others who have called him "evil." To me he represents a very particular kind of evil, what Hannah Arendt referred to (speaking of the Nazis) as "the banality of evil." He didn't come to his line of work out of a lack of other options, but just because it was handy, a good opportunity for making money in the growing cotton industry, without getting tied down; later he develops a rationale, which he shares with Cora when they are in North Carolina: his role is an essential one in the white vs. black struggle, preserving the conventional social order of black suppression for white benefit. In other words, he is "just following orders" to "serve the Reich" and while he takes pride in doing that so well, otherwise, it is just work -- lacking in any moral dimension for him. He shoots Jasper as a matter of pure convenience, he laughs at Homer's willing, self-defeating servitude without recognizing his own: He has abdicated his own humanity to serve as a cog in a machine, without ever questioning why.

I feel Ridgeway represents the general attitude of white slave owners and their agents. And while I wanted to see him killed, his fate, just finding himself no longer with a purpose, at loose ends, is probably more representative of their fate. No longer in power, but still hanging around with the potential to make trouble...to the present day.


Posted Nov. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
edie

Join Date: 04/05/12

Posts: 44

RE: How do you respond to the slave-catcher, Ridgeway? Does his relationship with the boy Homer change your view of him?

JL Pen, I agree that Ridgeway's fate suited him--reduced to reciting the fantasy of his creed, attended only by Homer, the slave who could not accept his freedom and had to shackle himself at night in order to sleep. His end proved both of them wrong while their prey Cora moves on to a future with hope.


Posted Nov. 13, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
CarolynSC

Join Date: 12/02/13

Posts: 8

RE: How do you respond to the slave-catcher, Ridgeway? Does his relationship with the boy Homer change your view of him?

Ridgeway was despicable. He seemed to me to almost have a fondness or admiration for Cora, but he was still going to bring her back to a "bloody welcome" at the plantation. He was the subhuman, not the slaves. No redeeming qualities.


Posted Nov. 14, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
edie

Join Date: 04/05/12

Posts: 44

RE: How do you respond to the slave-catcher, Ridgeway? Does his relationship with the boy Homer change your view of him?

After Cora instigates the fall that breaks Ridgeway, he looses touch with reality--has to ask Homer where he is and ignores Cora as she hobbles her way to the the manual pump hand car that will take her away from him. While the obvious cause of Ridgeway's retreat into the world of his mind dictating his confused thoughts on the American Imperative to his faithful scribe, is the injuries sustained in his precipitous fall, I wonder if it isn't also due to his inability to face the truth: that his life-long goal to redeem his failure to capture Mabel by returning Cora to her owners is no longer achievable. This failure could only steal the "imperative" from his driving principle and prove it false. It would deny everything it stands for and therefore Ridgeway himself. Better to slip into madness than face this.


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

Join Date: 10/14/11

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RE: How do you respond to the slave-catcher, Ridgeway? Does his relationship with the boy Homer change your view of him?

It has all been said above. There is not one thing about Ridgeway that makes me see anything other than "evil" in this character. I knew from the early chapter "Ridgeway" that he was the one who'd inflict as much pain on our characters as possible.


Posted Nov. 26, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beverlyj

Join Date: 12/22/11

Posts: 58

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RE: How do you respond to the slave-catcher, Ridgeway? Does his relationship with the boy Homer change your view of him?

I agree that Ridgeway was evil.
But in a slave culture - all are affected by the rules not just those who owned slaves.
All rules are geared to preserving the slave culture.
To be good at his job Ridgeway needed to put the fear in the slaves and score success and that made him be sadist.
But at least in his mind - he had his own rules that he thought "proved"him to be a better person.

No I did not change my opinion of him for what he did to Homer.
Ridgeway needed loyal workers to help him succeed so I think he knew what he was doing with Homer.
Homer knew that without protection - free papers had no value - so he opted to stay with someone who could protect him.


Posted Dec. 16, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
N*Starr

Join Date: 03/13/14

Posts: 35

RE: How do you respond to the slave-catcher, Ridgeway? Does his relationship with the boy Homer change your view of him?

I am not sure that I would think of him as a sadist. What do you make of the fact that he dispised Randall, who was a sadist?
Also his relationship with Homer made me wonder if this was just business. He represents another business that has no moral underpinnings, but has a level of loyalty within relationships.


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