The Longest Memory

The Longest Memory Imagery

Perfumed with the Smell of Baking (Olfactory Imagery)

During the chapter composed of Sanders Senior's diary entries, D'Aguiar writes: “Cook baked. The house was perfumed with the smell of baking all evening. Only Caroline baked like that.” In this example of olfactory imagery, the scent of baking evokes for Sanders the memory of his dead wife. The imagery shows Sanders' deepening attraction to Cook as he continues to conflate her with the wife he misses.

Soft, Rectangular Shapes (Visual Imagery)

Before Chapel knows how to read or even what books are, he watches Lydia reading. D'Aguiar writes that "she always had in her possession soft, rectangular shapes she peered at motionlessly for hours with no breaks." In this visual image, D'Aguiar conveys Chapel's lack of familiarity with books by describing the books as merely abstract shapes.

Sounded Like Two Huge Stones (Auditory Imagery)

In the first chapter, Whitechapel describes the slaves grinding their teeth in their sleep as sounding like two huge stones rubbing together. In this auditory image, D'Aguiar underscores the forceful, unpleasant sound by likening it to objects much larger and heavier than teeth.

Loud and Clear (Auditory Imagery)

While listening to Chapel read aloud to her, Lydia loses herself in his voice and finds that she has fallen in love. His voice is "loud and clear without a trace of the tremor and hesitation that surrounded it" when she taught him to read two years earlier. In this auditory image, D'Aguiar contrasts Chapel's once-uncertain voice with the confidence and clear cadence he now possesses when he reads.