The longest memory

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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Whitechapel is the focal character of D'Aguiar's novel, The Longest Memory however, the author has used a great many other characters whose stories also stand-alone. Why has D'Aguiar structured his novel in this way and how does it lead the reader to an understanding of the impacts of slavery? D'Aguiar's central purpose is to make us reflect upon American society during the slavery era and to acknowledge its realities so that we understand the capability for evil that exists in society. D'Aguair has used Whitechapel and his memories to encapsulate the brutality and inhumanity of slavery. The succeeding narratives further our understanding of the society and these are presented in a manner that forces the reader to accept D'Aguiar's judgements. The characters represent all of the voices of the society including people from different races, social status's and both genders so that the reader can see the position society imposed upon all citizens.

The forms of the individual narratives help us to understand the reality of society because they allow the characters to emerge as individuals, telling their own stories with undisguised honesty. The Longest Memory is told from the oldest to the youngest character showing how society instilled its ideals on each generation in an uncompromising manner and so the stories overlap and intertwine, to illustrate this D'Aguiar has used an overwhelming tone of sadness and despair to emphasise the negative feelings that society created.

Whitechapel's narrative focuses on the symbolism of seeing; the reason for this is to give the reader a sense of the extent to which society enforced its beliefs upon people and how much it effected them. Whitechapel has lived a very long time and has finally realized the truth about his enslavement and the extent to which he is dehumanized; this is emphasized by...