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The Underground Railroad
A magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's desperate bid for...
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What do you personally take away from reading this novel?

Created: 11/07/16

Replies: 6

Posted Nov. 07, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 130

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What do you personally take away from reading this novel?

Whether or not you feel it was intended by the author, is there a particular message you take away from the experience of reading this novel?


Posted Nov. 07, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 130

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RE: What do you personally take away from reading this novel?

I've posted a lot about what I think Whitehead was trying to say about America in this novel, but here, I have a personal "take away" that I realized only through the experience of discussing it here. I realized that even though I hate racism, and despite all I have studied about its history, even while I was answering the questions, I was for the most part, unconsciously writing as a white person, and unconsciously assuming a white audience. So much of what I read every day likewise makes that assumption. The way people write, and speak, can be inclusive but often is not... That is part of the problem, and not part of the vision for a better future, which I think the author probably hopes readers will realize! And in reading and discussing this book, I realize I need to try a lot harder.


Posted Nov. 10, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
KateB

Join Date: 02/11/16

Posts: 53

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RE: What do you personally take away from reading this novel?

I think I particularly like the fact that all the white characters (and I am a white female) are all deeply flawed and all fail Cora. Mabel is petty minded and reluctant. I felt her husband was only doing what he did because that was what his father had done. Others - Randall and Ridgeway - are just plain evil. And I think it is important to think about that. I tend to think of the legacy of slavery as the effect it has on the African American population having to battle so long and hard for equality. But after this book I feel the stain on the white population is something I should think about a lot more.

In other 'slavery' or discrimination novels - Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Help, The Invention of Wings - there are likable white characters to identify with. There are none here. I empathized and cared for Cora and Lovey and Cesar (among others) - and that is how it should be. Cora's spirit, dignity and patience are too. I found it a surprisingly hopeful book.


Posted Nov. 10, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
KateB

Join Date: 02/11/16

Posts: 53

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RE: What do you personally take away from reading this novel?

Not Mabel! Ethel!! (and now I am wondering if their names are similar deliberately...)


Posted Nov. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
N*Starr

Join Date: 03/13/14

Posts: 35

RE: What do you personally take away from reading this novel?

I find that all that I want to say about what I take away from this book feels unsatisfactory. I have tried to recommend this book to people and find that I tell them about how incredibly satisfying it was to read, and yet how deeply painful it is to read. I wish I could say I have a lot of takers to read this fantastic book, but there is something so visceral about the pain that makes this book emotionally gripping in a way that transcends time.


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

Join Date: 10/14/11

Posts: 90

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RE: What do you personally take away from reading this novel?

Take away: the book is very well written and the author is a fantastic story teller by using the writing style he chooses. I do not want to read another book about slavery for quite awhile. Once again I realize how much I hate knowing how people treat people...how we now live in scary times. And I learned that I really do not understand the actual underground railroad. After the heart wrenching story I don't think I will research it for a bit. This was a fascinating character story, plot driven, with a sense of time & geography. How many stories get all that right?


Posted Jan. 23, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mildas

Join Date: 05/11/16

Posts: 7

RE: What do you personally take away from reading this novel?

I feel that the book opened my eyes to the brutality of slavery and that its images will stay with me. The atrocities committed by the Nazi regime not only to the Jewish people, but other European nations and the Stalinist regime that slaughtered those who disagreed with them were all just as brutal. It makes me truly wonder about humanity. How can some people abuse other humans and treat them as if they were animals? Why does hatred exist? Why can't we accept and celebrate our differences? Why must some leaders want more land and make slaves of other nations? Will humanity ever change????? The book was written very well but the history that was uncovered left me emotionally drained. As a nation, we have not healed. It seems that we do not learn all that much from history.


labas

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