The Longest Memory

by

Fred D’Aguiar

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Longest Memory can help.
Cook is Whitechapel’s wife and Chapel’s biological mother. She is a loving, caring family member who takes pleasure in making her family happy. Despite her respect for her husband’s opinions, she is not as committed to blind obedience as he is. Rather, she reveals her independence and freedom of thought when she decides to keep Chapel’s ability to read secret from her husband, trusting that her son should be able to grow intellectually and to invest in his own happiness. She also demonstrates courage in telling Whitechapel about the times that Sanders Senior raped her (leading her to become pregnant with Chapel) and thus risking both punishment for speaking out and ostracization from no longer being a virgin.

Cook Quotes in The Longest Memory

The The Longest Memory quotes below are all either spoken by Cook or refer to Cook. 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:
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Longest Memory published in 2017.
Chapter 1: Whitechapel Quotes

I killed my son because I wanted him next to me when I died. Just as he had held his heavy mother weighted by death for me to listen to her last breath, he would hold my head to help my last words out.

Related Characters: Whitechapel (speaker), Chapel, Cook
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4: Cook Quotes

Whitechapel saved me. The second time I had to tell someone or surely die. There was no one to tell but my husband. Whitechapel saved my life. A child not his. A pure wife no longer pure. Any other man would have thrown me away. He is no ordinary man. His master respects him.

Related Characters: Cook (speaker), Whitechapel, Sanders Senior
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8: Cook Quotes

You would hold up your glorious life as an example of the slave who has done all the proper things to survive and earn the respect of the master and overseer.

I can hear you, my husband. Your voice is strong and clear but without the strength and clarity of the voice of my son as he lifts word after word from the pages of a book.

Related Characters: Cook (speaker), Whitechapel, Chapel, Lydia
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11: The Virginian Quotes

Young, nubile female slaves are a temptation to us all, but one that should be religiously avoided. […] If these female slaves are used in this way they engender bitterness in a house between the overseer and his wife or the master and his wife. The slave may even become aware of this influence and exploit it to her own advantage. I therefore argue for restraint.

Related Characters: Editor of The Virginian (speaker), Cook, Sanders Senior
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Longest Memory LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Longest Memory PDF

Cook Character Timeline in The Longest Memory

The timeline below shows where the character Cook appears in The Longest Memory. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Whitechapel
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...forward to his death. He recalls the death of his second wife (later revealed as Cook), which dragged on for weeks. Chapel held her, hiding his tears. Cook’s final words were... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...up to Chapel’s escape, Whitechapel is distracted from his son’s desire to run away by Cook’s slow death. When the master (Mr. Whitechapel) allows Whitechapel to tend to his wife instead... (full context)
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...danger for slaves to be found off the plantation at night. Chapel calls out for Cook (who died the previous day), and Whitechapel begs the Sanders Junior to whip him in... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...be by his side when he eventually died, just as he and Chapel were by Cook’s side when she died. This desire is what ultimately killed Chapel. Now, as a form... (full context)
Chapter 2: Mr. Whitechapel
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...tried in the past. Mr. Whitechapel ultimately reveals that Sanders Senior raped Whitechapel’s virgin wife (Cook), and she became pregnant, but that Whitechapel accepted the illegitimate child (Chapel) as his own.... (full context)
Chapter 3: Sanders Senior
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...look for a fifteen-year-old girl at the market. He ultimately chooses a woman (later called Cook) who looks about twenty-two, despite her claim to be fifteen, and is satisfied with her... (full context)
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
When Sanders Senior’s normal cook gets sick, he decides to use the new girl (Cook) in the kitchen, who turns out to be a wonderful cook. He decides to give... (full context)
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...Junior’s birthday, which is also the anniversary of Caroline’s death, Sanders Senior can smell what Cook has baked in the kitchen and realizes that it reminds him of his wife. Later,... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
A few days later, Sanders Senior scolds Cook for answering one of Sanders Junior’s questions about death, while Whitechapel teaches him to click... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...fails to bring a new slave on the plantation, Sanders Senior finds excuses to invite Cook to his room. On one occasion, he scolds her for once again talking to Sanders... (full context)
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
On Christmas Eve, a time that reminds Sanders Senior of Caroline, the overseer grabs Cook, draws her to his bed, and rapes her, seeking to get out of his system... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
On the first of January, Whitechapel and Cook get married. Sanders Senior reflects that most slaves on the plantation belong to Whitechapel’s family,... (full context)
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
The next day, Sanders Senior is summoned to a meeting with Mr. Whitechapel, Whitechapel, and Cook. He knows the meeting will be about the rape and does not attempt to lie,... (full context)
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
One day, Sanders Senior is once again convened to Mr. Whitechapel’s house, as Cook has revealed that she lost her virginity to him when he raped her the first... (full context)
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...to become a scientist or a philosopher. In the meantime, Whitechapel seems genuinely happy about Cook’s pregnancy. (full context)
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...Junior that his mother, Caroline, died in childbirth, which upsets the boy terribly. In September, Cook gives birth to a son (Chapel) whose skin is dark but whom Sanders finds looks... (full context)
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
Meanwhile, after rumors begin to spread about Sanders Senior’s role in Cook’s pregnancy, Mr. Whitechapel furiously orders the overseer to find a wife to quell the rumors.... (full context)
Chapter 4: Cook
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
Cook relates her experience with the overseer, Sanders Senior. Although she wanted to die after he... (full context)
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
Initially, Cook thought Whitechapel was too old for her, but now she feels deeply loved and is... (full context)
Chapter 5: Chapel
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
Whitechapel and Cook’s son, nicknamed Chapel, reflects on his family and his life on the plantation. He notes... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...the first category. Chapel, though, considers his father a kind of “jailer” himself. Therefore, after Cook falls sick and dies, Chapel trusts that he no longer has a reason to stay... (full context)
Chapter 6: Plantation Owners
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...Whitechapel has to say. When Mr. Whitechapel finally reveals that Sanders Senior raped Whitechapel’s wife, Cook, who bore the very boy who was whipped to death, the men are incredulous at... (full context)
Chapter 7: Lydia
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...reads to him, marking his page when he has to run back to his mother, Cook. (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...to him and takes his finger to make it move along with the words. When Cook calls Chapel from the kitchen, Lydia tells him to keep this activity their secret. (full context)
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...so she hides it from him. They become so absorbed in their secret activity that Cook has to call her son twice before he answers. (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...She teaches him to spell his last name: “Whitechapel.” Curious about Chapel’s nickname, she asks Cook why she calls her son “Chapel.” Cook says that, otherwise, both her son and husband... (full context)
Chapter 8: Cook
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
Cook describes preparing two pots every day. One of the pots is for her master, and... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
One day, Cook calls Chapel while cooking but does not hear him answer. After walking around and listening... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
Cook runs back to the kitchen and yells Chapel’s name again, this time hearing his answer... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
Cook tries to convince herself that what she heard is unimportant, but she cannot avoid admitting... (full context)
Chapter 9: Lydia
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
One day, when Lydia is dreaming of Chapel, Cook enters the reading room and gives the young girl a cryptic message about someone waiting... (full context)
Chapter 12: Great Granddaughter
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...granddaughter recalls Whitechapel’s second marriage and the sadness that marked his face after his wife, Cook, died. Since Chapel’s death, he has empty eyes and everyone avoids him because the old... (full context)