In the first chapter, Whitechapel says that he normally stays awake much of the night listening to the sounds fellow slaves make in their sleep, saying they "whinny like horses and bray like mules, grunt like hogs, howl like wolves, or just plain die with a gasp." In this series of similes, Whitechapel exhibits how he has internalized the racial prejudice that attempts to justify slavery, as his similes liken the sounds enslaved human beings make to those of animals.
Sacks of Worries (Metaphor)
When describing how his face has aged, Whitechapel says "the bags under my eyes are sacks of worries." In this metaphor, Whitechapel exaggerates the common metaphor of having "bags" under one's eyes by saying his are not bags but sacks that have collected his many worries over his long life.
A Bolt of Lightning Shot Through My Heart (Metaphor)
When Whitechapel recounts how Chapel disregarded his cautious advice and walked away shaking his head, Whitechapel says, "A bolt of lightning shot through my heart." In this metaphor, Whitechapel emphasizes Whitechapel's extreme feeling of shock and betrayal at Chapel's insolence by likening the feeling to being shocked through the heart with lightning.
Feel Like a Man (Metaphor)
During the chapter narrated through Sanders Senior's diary entries, Sanders Senior wonders if he is "wrong to look at a slave girl and feel like a man for the first time in five years." In this metaphor, Sanders Senior uses the euphemistic language of 'feeling like a man' to describe the sexual arousal he feels when he looks at Cook—an arousal he has not felt since his wife died five years earlier.
My Hand Was a Crab (Metaphor)
When Chapel recounts how Lydia taught him how to write, he understands the movement of his hand as "a crab walking sideways and leaving crab tracks, sideways across the page." In this metaphor, D'Aguiar conveys Chapel's deep unfamiliarity with the act of writing by showing how Chapel makes sense of the strange shape and movement his hand must assume by associating it with a crab, with which he is more familiar.
The Longest Memory Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Longest Memory is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.