How does Fred D’Aguiar use a variety of literary conventions to explore the theme of the power of memory?
The longest memory by Fred D’Aguir uses multiple literary conventions to express the power of memory. This book focuses on Whitechapel and the memories that he has, specifically of Chapels’, his son’s, death. This book also looks at the other characters point of view and links them to either the death of Chapel, of a loved one, or the memory of the event.
1 – MOTIF –
Fred D’Aguir incorporates recurring elements that have a symbolic significance in the story. Through its repetition, it helps to produce other narrative aspects such as the theme. This literary piece uses motifs, such as memory and death, as a way to portray one of this books’ main themes, the power of memory. Memory and death are both motifs as they are mentioned repeatedly throughout the chapters of the book and coincide with each other. The majority of memories are of a deceased loved one, such as, Chapel or Mr Sanders’s wife, these painful memories lead up to the final sentence of the book “Memory is pain trying to resurrect itself” (pp. 138).
2 – SYMBOLISM –
The actions of Mr Sanders Jr, killing Chapel, was a major event that is mentioned throughout the story. It is first mentioned in the first chapter ‘Remembering’ and was in Whitechapel’s point of view, yet we don’t know the events that caused this to happen. As you continue to read you are told the events that transpired before chapel’s death. We are further explained the deeper meaning of the event and how it effects the other characters in the story. The use of this literary convention gives the reader a greater meaning of the power of memory and symbolises the cruel way slaves were treated. “The practice has been to administer something in the region of 200 lashes with further restrictions of diet and maybe led irons for a week or two afterwards. This seems fair.” (pp.107)
3 – FLASHBACKS –
A flashback provides some background information on events, situations, or a character’s history. Fred D’Aguir used flashbacks to reveal some important truth about a character’s past that otherwise the reader might not have known. The flash backs in this book are plotted in a certain way so that it only shows specific parts of a character’s personality or past, to make the reader feel a particular way. This book also uses flashbacks to keep the reader invested and interested in the plot and the characters. Only giving us a certain amount of information so that we will continue to read to find out more. Using the power of memory to remember past events.
4 – CONFLICT –
Without conflict there is no movement and no narrative drive. There is apparent conflict in Whitechapel that we are shown, especially in the final chapter as remembers his son. He argues with himself about whether his actions to talk to Mr Whitechapel and telling him about where chapel was, was in his sons’ best interest. The conflict inside him reflects on the power of memory as it due to him remembering the events that had occurred in the past. “Shall I tell you about your blood? That two races are distributed evenly in it? Shall I help you prepare for a life elsewhere? Where? This is the only place I know. Maybe I am wrong, I wonder to myself, as I see myself doing it, wrong to tell the master that my son is gone and say I want him back under my guidance and protection.”
Thus, in summary, The Longest Memory uses literary conventions, such as, motifs, flashbacks and symbolism