The Underground Railroad Quotes

Rate this book
Clear rating
The Underground Railroad The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
195,885 ratings, 4.02 average rating, 19,339 reviews
Open Preview
The Underground Railroad Quotes Showing 1-30 of 288
“And America, too, is a delusion, the grandest one of all. The white race believes--believes with all its heart--that it is their right to take the land. To kill Indians. Make war. Enslave their brothers. This nation shouldn't exist, if there is any justice in the world, for its foundations are murder, theft, and cruelty. Yet here we are.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“Slavery is a sin when whites were put to the yoke, but not the African. All men are created equal, unless we decide you are not a man.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“Stolen bodies working stolen land. It was an engine that did not stop, its hungry boiler fed with blood.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“The world may be mean, but people don't have to be, not if they refuse.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“The whites came to this land for a fresh start and to escape the tyranny of their masters, just as the freemen had fled theirs. But the ideals they held up for themselves, they denied others.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“Cora didn't know what optimistic meant. She asked the other girls that night if they were familiar with the word. None of them had heard it before. She decided that it meant trying.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“Sometimes a useful delusion is better than a useless truth.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“Truth was a changing display in a shop window, manipulated by hands when you weren’t looking, alluring and ever out of reach.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“If niggers were supposed to have their freedom, they wouldn't be in chains. If the red man was supposed to keep hold of his land, it'd still be his. If the white man wasn't destined to take this new world, he wouldn't own it now.

Here was the true Great Spirit, the divine thread connecting all human endeavor--if you can keep it, it is yours. Your property, slave or continent. The American imperative.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“If you want to see what this nation is all about, you have to ride the rails. Look outside as you speed through, and you’ll find the true face of America. It was a joke, then, from the start. There was only darkness outside the windows on her journeys, and only ever would be darkness.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“She wasn’t surprised when his character revealed itself—if you waited long enough, it always did. Like the dawn.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“A plantation was a plantation; one might think one’s misfortunes distinct, but the true horror lay in their universality.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“Poetry and prayer put ideas in people’s heads that got them killed, distracting them from the ruthless mechanism of the world.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“Yet when his classmates put their blades to a colored cadaver, they did more for the cause of colored advancement than the most high-minded abolitionist. In death the negro became a human being. Only then was he the white man’s equal.”
Colson Whitehead , The Underground Railroad
“Freedom was a community laboring for something lovely and rare.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“The only way to know how long you are lost in the darkness is to be saved from it.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“There was an order of misery, misery tucked inside miseries, and you were meant to keep track.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“Poems were too close to prayer, rousing regrettable passions. Waiting for God to rescue you when it was up to you. Poetry and prayer put ideas in people's heads that got them killed, distracting them from the ruthless mechanism of the world.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“Racial prejudice rotted one's faculties.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“But we have all been branded even if you can't see it, inside if not without”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“But nobody wanted to speak on the true disposition of the world. And no one wanted to hear it...
The whites came to this land for a fresh start and to escape the tyranny of their masters, just as the Freeman had fled theirs. But the ideals they held up for themselves, they denied others. Cora had heard Michael recite the Declaration of Independence back on the Randall plantation many times, his voice drifting through the village like an angry phantom. She didn't understand the words, most of them at any rate, but created equal was not lost on her. The white men who wrote it didn't understand it either, if all men did not truly mean all men. Not if they snatched away what belonged to other people, whether it was something you could hold in your hand, like dirt, or something you could not, like freedom.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“The other patrollers were boys and men of bad character; the work attracted a type. In another country they would have been criminals, but this was America.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“The almanac had a strange, soapy smell and made a cracking noise like fire as she turned the pages. She’d never been the first person to open a book.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“The park sustained them, the green harbor they preserved as the town extended itself outward, block by block and house by house. Cora thought of her garden back on Randall, the plot she cherished. Now she saw it for the joke it was - a tiny square of dirt that had convinced her she owned something. It was hers like the cotton she seeded, weeded, and picked was hers. Her plot was a shadow of something that lived elsewhere, out of sight. The way poor Michael reciting the Declaration of Independence was an echo of something that existed elsewhere. Now that she had run away and seen a bit of the country, Cora wasn't sure the document described anything real at all. America was a ghost in the darkness, like her.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“Men start off good and then the world makes them mean. The world is mean from the start and gets meaner every day. It uses you up until you only dream of death.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
tags: men
“It was a magnificent operation, from seed to bale, but not one of them could be prideful of their labor. It had been stolen from them. Bled from them. The tunnel, the tracks, the desperate souls who found salvation in the coordination of its stations and timetables—this was a marvel to be proud of. She wondered if those who had built this thing had received their proper reward.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“The music stopped. The circle broke. Sometimes a slave will be lost in a brief eddy of liberation. In the sway of a sudden reverie among the furrows or while untangling the mysteries of an early morning dream. In the middle of a song on a warm Sunday night. Then it comes, always - the overseer's cry, the call to work, the shadow of the master, the reminder that she is only a human being for a tiny moment across the eternity of her servitude.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“As the years pass, Valentine observed, racial violence only becomes more vicious in its expression. It will not abate or disappear, not anytime soon, and not in the south.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“White man trying to kill you slow every day, and sometimes trying to kill you fast. Why make it easy for him? That was one kind of work you could say no to.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
“He told her that every one of her enemies, all the masters and overseers of her suffering, would be punished, if not in this world then the next, for justice may be slow and invisible, but it always renders its true verdict in the end.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10