The Underground Railroad

Caesar is an enslaved man who lives on Randall and invites Cora to run away with him. Born in Virginia to Lily Jane and Jerome, Caesar spends most of his life in Virginia (owned by Mrs. Garner), before being sold south and ending up on Randall. In South Carolina, Caesar enjoys his work in a factory and happily decides to stay there with Cora. However, when Ridgeway discovers Caesar and Cora are in disguise there, Caesar is imprisoned and then killed by a mob that enters his prison cell and tears his body to pieces.

Caesar Quotes in The Underground Railroad

The The Underground Railroad quotes below are all either spoken by Caesar or refer to Caesar. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Family, Heritage, and Home Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Doubleday edition of The Underground Railroad published in 2016.
Chapter 2: Georgia Quotes

Cora was still squinting over his idiocy when she got her first bowl of the soup. 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.

Related Characters: Cora (aka Bessie), Caesar
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4: South Carolina Quotes

Once Mabel ran, Cora thought of her as little as possible. After landing in South Carolina, she realized that she had banished her mother not from sadness but from rage. She hated her. Having tasted freedom's bounty, it was incomprehensible to Cora that Mabel had abandoned her to that hell. A child. Her company would have made the escape more difficult, but Cora hadn't been a baby. If she could pick cotton, she could run. She would have died in that place, after untold brutalities, if Caesar had not come along. In the train, in the deathless tunnel, she had finally asked him why he brought her with him. Caesar said, "Because I knew you could do it."

Related Characters: Cora (aka Bessie), Caesar, Mabel
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

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As she moved through the examination, Cora got the impression she was being conveyed on a belt, like one of Caesar's products, tended down the line with care and diligence.

Related Characters: Cora (aka Bessie), Caesar
Page Number: 112-113
Explanation and Analysis:

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Perhaps they would prefer not to know, Caesar said. What were these rumors compared to what they had been freed from? What sort of calculation would their neighbors make, weighing all the promises of their new circumstances

against the allegations and the truth of their own pasts? According to the law, most of them were still property, their names on pieces of paper in cabinets kept by the United States Government. For the moment, warning people was all they could do.

Related Characters: Caesar
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 8: Tennessee Quotes

At the auction block they tallied the souls purchased at each auction, and on the plantations the overseers preserved the names of workers in rows of tight cursive. Every name an asset, breathing capital, profit made flesh. The peculiar institution made Cora into a maker of lists as well. In her inventory of loss people were not reduced to sums but multiplied by their kindnesses. People she had loved, people who had helped her. The Hob women, Lovey, Martin and Ethel, Fletcher. The ones who disappeared: Caesar and Sam and Lumbly.

Related Characters: Cora (aka Bessie), Caesar, Lovey, Fletcher, Lumbly, Sam, Martin Wells, Ethel Wells (née Delany)
Related Symbols: Hob
Page Number: 215
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10: Indiana Quotes

How could such a bitter thing become a means of pleasure? Everything on Valentine was the opposite. Work needn't be suffering, it could unite folks. A bright child like Chester might thrive and prosper, as Molly and her friends did. A mother raise her daughter with love and kindness. A beautiful soul like Caesar could be anything he wanted here, all of them could be: own a spread, be a schoolteacher, fight for colored rights. Even be a poet. In her Georgia misery she had pictured freedom, and it had not looked like this. Freedom was a community laboring for something lovely and rare.

Related Characters: Cora (aka Bessie), Caesar, Chester, Molly
Page Number: 272
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Caesar Character Timeline in The Underground Railroad

The timeline below shows where the character Caesar appears in The Underground Railroad. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Ajarry
Family, Heritage, and Home Theme Icon
Endurance vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Death and Freedom Theme Icon
Value, Ownership, and Commodification Theme Icon
Brutality and Violation Theme Icon
History, Myth, and Fantasy Theme Icon
When Caesar first asks Cora to flee to the north, she says no; this refusal is related... (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Home Theme Icon
Endurance vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Death and Freedom Theme Icon
Value, Ownership, and Commodification Theme Icon
Brutality and Violation Theme Icon
...inevitable, that “liberty was reserved for other people.” When Cora refuses to run away with Caesar, it is Ajarry “talking.” Three weeks later, when Cora changes her mind, she is inhabiting... (full context)
Chapter 2: Georgia
Family, Heritage, and Home Theme Icon
Endurance vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Death and Freedom Theme Icon
Value, Ownership, and Commodification Theme Icon
Brutality and Violation Theme Icon
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...birthday today without her realizing. While the rest of the crowd drifts off to eat, Caesar lingers and asks if he can talk to Cora. James Randall bought Caesar a year... (full context)
Endurance vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Death and Freedom Theme Icon
Brutality and Violation Theme Icon
History, Myth, and Fantasy Theme Icon
Even after she returns to the rest of the crowd, Cora is still thinking about Caesar’s “idiocy”; their brief conversation is the most that any man has spoken to her since... (full context)
Endurance vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Death and Freedom Theme Icon
Brutality and Violation Theme Icon
...caught and returned in an iron cage. On the night that Big Anthony’s punishment begins, Caesar comes to visit Cora at Hob, and Cora takes him to talk in the abandoned,... (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Home Theme Icon
Endurance vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Death and Freedom Theme Icon
Value, Ownership, and Commodification Theme Icon
Brutality and Violation Theme Icon
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...elusive. She decides she must see it for herself. After Terrance’s speech, Cora goes to Caesar and behaves as if she had agreed to the escape plan all along. (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Home Theme Icon
Endurance vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
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Value, Ownership, and Commodification Theme Icon
History, Myth, and Fantasy Theme Icon
Caesar was born on a small farm in Virginia owned by a mild-mannered widow, Mrs. Garner,... (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Home Theme Icon
Endurance vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
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Value, Ownership, and Commodification Theme Icon
Caesar admits that Fletcher has never helped a slave get to the underground railroad before, but... (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Home Theme Icon
Endurance vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
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Brutality and Violation Theme Icon
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Cora and Caesar enter a swamp, and soon after they hear a voice—it is Lovey. She tells them... (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Home Theme Icon
Death and Freedom Theme Icon
Brutality and Violation Theme Icon
Cora and Caesar confirm that neither of them mentioned the underground railroad to Lovey. They arrive at Fletcher’s... (full context)
Endurance vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Death and Freedom Theme Icon
Value, Ownership, and Commodification Theme Icon
History, Myth, and Fantasy Theme Icon
...Some of the shackles are small and thin, designed for children. Fletcher introduces Cora and Caesar to a white man with a strange accent named Lumbly. Lumbly explains that when he... (full context)
Death and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Myth, and Fantasy Theme Icon
...is possible to get a full picture of America. The train arrives and Cora and Caesar climb in. The car is in a bad state and Cora worries that it will... (full context)
Chapter 4: South Carolina
Death and Freedom Theme Icon
Value, Ownership, and Commodification Theme Icon
History, Myth, and Fantasy Theme Icon
...Carpenter when she arrived from Georgia. The train journey felt dangerous, and Cora clung to Caesar as the car shook. When they arrived, they were greeted by a white man named... (full context)
Value, Ownership, and Commodification Theme Icon
...through “scrip,” but Cora is wary of getting into debt. On the green, she spies Caesar, who looks older and has grown a mustache. He gives her a bouquet of flowers.... (full context)
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Cora asks Caesar about Sam, and Caesar mentions that there is a train leaving in a few days,... (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Home Theme Icon
Value, Ownership, and Commodification Theme Icon
History, Myth, and Fantasy Theme Icon
...moved to the new hospital to “get better.” An hour before Cora goes to meet Caesar and Sam, she manages to get through an unlocked door to the roof of the... (full context)
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Value, Ownership, and Commodification Theme Icon
Brutality and Violation Theme Icon
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...and suddenly, she realizes that the woman knew she was being sterilized against her will. Caesar says he must warn Meg, a friend he’s been “spending time with,” because she sometimes... (full context)
Endurance vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Death and Freedom Theme Icon
Brutality and Violation Theme Icon
History, Myth, and Fantasy Theme Icon
...harboring any “murderers,” and Cora begins to fear that someone has tracked down her and Caesar. She goes to the men’s dormitories to talk to Caesar, but he is still at... (full context)
Chapter 6: North Carolina
Family, Heritage, and Home Theme Icon
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Brutality and Violation Theme Icon
History, Myth, and Fantasy Theme Icon
...on the underground railroad platform. She tortures herself with thoughts of what has happened to Caesar and Sam and, while sleeping, she has nightmares about a twisted, violent version of her... (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Home Theme Icon
Endurance vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
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Brutality and Violation Theme Icon
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...she unthinkingly flings a few coins, and she imagines sharing memories of miraculous escape with Caesar. Cora feels no guilt about the white boy she killed. She thinks to herself that... (full context)
Chapter 8: Tennessee
Family, Heritage, and Home Theme Icon
Endurance vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Death and Freedom Theme Icon
Value, Ownership, and Commodification Theme Icon
Brutality and Violation Theme Icon
History, Myth, and Fantasy Theme Icon
Having learnt to orient herself by the sun from Caesar, Cora notices that they are heading west, not south. She asks Ridgeway where they are... (full context)
Endurance vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Death and Freedom Theme Icon
Value, Ownership, and Commodification Theme Icon
Brutality and Violation Theme Icon
History, Myth, and Fantasy Theme Icon
...her that the dress suits her. He dramatically notes that she hasn’t yet heard about Caesar’s fate, before informing her that a mob broke into the jail where Caesar was being... (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Home Theme Icon
Endurance vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
Death and Freedom Theme Icon
Brutality and Violation Theme Icon
...in the face three times, telling herself it is in honor of three murders: Lovey, Caesar, and Jasper. However, in reality they are all for Cora herself. (full context)
Chapter 9: Caesar
Family, Heritage, and Home Theme Icon
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Death and Freedom Theme Icon
Value, Ownership, and Commodification Theme Icon
History, Myth, and Fantasy Theme Icon
The narrative cuts back to Jockey’s birthday celebration, when Caesar steals a quiet moment to himself in the schoolhouse. He hopes that this will be... (full context)
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Caesar feels furious at Mrs. Garner, the “old white bitch” who never fulfilled her promise of... (full context)
Chapter 10: Indiana
Endurance vs. Rebellion Theme Icon
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Brutality and Violation Theme Icon
History, Myth, and Fantasy Theme Icon
...at Valentine, and his reunion with Cora is emotional. Sam tells Cora that Ridgeway found Caesar at the factory before he had a chance to warn him. Despite being horrifically beaten... (full context)