The Longest Memory

by

Fred D’Aguiar

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Longest Memory can help.

Mr. Whitechapel Character Analysis

The master on the plantation, Mr. Whitechapel believes that he treats his slave with fairness and respect. Despite his conviction that blacks are inherently inferior to whites, Mr. Whitechapel trusts that his Christian beliefs, which advocate kindness, are compatible with slavery. Because of this, he thinks that he is a better plantation owner than most of his brutal “friends,” which are owners of neighboring plantations. However, Mr. Whitechapel’s views are marked by contradictions, as he realizes that his punishment is not always fair—For example, Chapel died when Mr. Whitechapel was unable to supervise a whipping on his plantation. His desire to protect slaves from unnecessary suffering also proves blind to the greater cruelty he inflicts on them: denying their freedom and equality, and making them vulnerable to the constant threat of physical violence. Like most slave owners, he also denies his slaves the opportunity to learn to read and write—which is why he is furious when he finds out that his daughter, Lydia, taught Chapel to do so. Although he sometimes seems conflicted about his own behavior, he ultimately prefers to believe that he is a righteous slave owner.

Mr. Whitechapel Quotes in The Longest Memory

The The Longest Memory quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Whitechapel or refer to Mr. Whitechapel. 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 2: Mr. Whitechapel Quotes

“This inhuman display parading as discipline is a regular occurrence on these so-called ‘tightly run’ operations. I tell you all the evidence supports my belief that as a long-term measure it is a disaster. Contrary to their arguments, such rough handling provides rougher responses. The human spirit is passive in some but nature shows us that it is rebellious in most.”

Related Characters: Mr. Whitechapel (speaker), Chapel, Sanders Junior, Plantation Owners
Related Symbols: Whip
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

“Africans may be our inferiors, but they exhibit the same qualities we possess, even if they are merely imitating us. Their management is best exemplified by an approach that treats them first and foremost as subjects of God, though blessed with lesser faculties, and therefore suited to the trade of slavery.”

Related Characters: Mr. Whitechapel (speaker), Chapel, Sanders Junior
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6: Plantation Owners Quotes

“Whitechapel, you even got a mention in The Virginian.”

“The death of one slave does not make me one of you.”

“True, Whitechapel, true, it does not; it makes you a fool.”

“And, after all you’ve said, a hypocrite too. ‘The slaves have rights as humans; they are not just tools.’”

“What about this? ‘Show them respect and they’ll work hard.’”

“‘They may be inferior but they’re people like us.’ Lost your tongue, Whitechapel?”

Related Characters: Mr. Whitechapel (speaker), Plantation Owners (speaker), Chapel
Related Symbols: Whip
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

Your policy of a judicious whip failed to save him. There is only one whip, it eats flesh.

Related Characters: Mr. Whitechapel (speaker), Chapel, Plantation Owners
Related Symbols: Whip
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

“Our line of work is slaves, we can’t change the fact. We do it the way we think best serves our investment.”

“It’s not a charity.”

“We are Christians but Christianity does not equal weakness.”

“We treat our slaves with a firm hand, we’re severe in the hope that other slaves will behave well out of fear.”

Related Characters: Plantation Owners (speaker), Mr. Whitechapel
Related Symbols: Whip
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

“How could your Whitechapel watch and not intervene?”

“He lost a son in deference to authority.”

“Name your price. That slave of yours is a slaver’s dream.”

“He’s still not for sale.”

“He deserves your family name.”

“Well said indeed.”

“If he were white he’d still be rare.”

“Let’s drink a toast. To Whitechapel and to his slave.”

Related Characters: Mr. Whitechapel (speaker), Plantation Owners (speaker), Whitechapel, Chapel, Sanders Junior
Related Symbols: Whip
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9: Lydia Quotes

“By teaching little Whitechapel to read and write when he can never use it you have done him the gravest injustice.” I want to reply that a law which says a slave should not read and write is unjust. But I look at my feet and nod when he enquires whether I have heard every word. He said it might be possible in the future. I look up at him and, as if to dash my hopes of a future when Chapel and I could sit and read together, he adds, in the next century, perhaps.

Related Characters: Mr. Whitechapel (speaker), Lydia (speaker), Chapel
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Longest Memory LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Longest Memory PDF

Mr. Whitechapel Character Timeline in The Longest Memory

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Whitechapel appears in The Longest Memory. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Remembering
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
In a mournful voice, Whitechapel, the oldest and most respected slave on Mr. Whitechapel ’s plantation in Virginia, begins to speak. He explains that the future is a repetition... (full context)
Chapter 1: Whitechapel
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...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 of working, he concludes that... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
To save Chapel, Whitechapel decides to talk to his master, Mr. Whitechapel , and negotiate his son’s fair treatment in exchange for information about his son’s whereabouts.... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Whitechapel then looks up to Mr. Whitechapel for the first time in their conversation and begs him to keep the search party... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...Chapel is hiding. Surprised and furious at seeing his slave hold such power over him, Mr. Whitechapel interrogates him angrily, but Whitechapel only says a few vague words about his son’s search... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...house look at him angrily, as though he were sacrificing his son’s life. Whitechapel leaves Mr. Whitechapel ’s house with relief, believing that the domestic slaves, who are affected by the master’s... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
Whitechapel spends the rest of the day waiting eagerly for any sign of his son. Mr. Whitechapel , who initially delayed his trip to the North, ultimately decides that he cannot wait... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
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...born free. Whitechapel believes that he has already saved his son by going to see the master , who dominates over every living thing on the plantation and therefore ensures that his... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
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Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
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...Junior’s desire, Whitechapel tells him that he and four other witnesses can attest to hearing the master ’s orders to lock Chapel up until Mr. Whitechapel’s return. Sanders Junior threatens to whip... (full context)
Chapter 2: Mr. Whitechapel
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Back on the plantation the next day, Mr. Whitechapel launches in a long monologue to Sanders Junior, the deputy, and Whitechapel, accusing all of... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Angry at what has happened, Mr. Whitechapel wonders if he should sell all the slaves on his plantation, because he doesn’t know... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Mr. Whitechapel tells Whitechapel to leave, orders him to calm his fellow slaves down, and tells him... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Once Whitechapel is gone, Mr. Whitechapel tells his two employees he is not actually worried about Whitechapel but, instead, about them.... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Mr. Whitechapel also scolds Sanders Junior for hitting Whitechapel and whipping Chapel to death in front of... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
Mr. Whitechapel trusts that they will all have to work hard to make their slaves obedient again,... (full context)
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
Mr. Whitechapel adds that Whitechapel could have used this fact to keep Sanders Junior from whipping his... (full context)
Chapter 3: Sanders Senior
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
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...and hardworking attitude, but this does not keep him from treating his slaves severely, which Mr. Whitechapel often criticizes. (full context)
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
Sanders Senior believes that slaves are cattle and should not be given more food, despite Mr. Whitechapel ’s new orders. After a few female slaves die on the plantation, he needs to... (full context)
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
When Sanders Senior is caught beating a slave, Mr. Whitechapel reprimands him, which irritates the overseer. On Sanders Junior’s birthday, which is also the anniversary... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
When Sanders Senior and Mr. Whitechapel go to the market to look for a new slave, they discuss Abolitionists’ increasing protests.... (full context)
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...out about the rape and kill him, Sanders Senior feels reassured by Christmas dinner at Mr. Whitechapel ’s house, where he laughs with the master’s family about finding a wife and feels... (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... (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... (full context)
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Disaster strikes when a slave runs away, and Mr. Whitechapel removes some of the slaves’ privileges. Famished and desperate, the runaway finally returns to the... (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. Sanders obeys the... (full context)
Chapter 4: Cook
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...her after learning what happened to her. She is also impressed by the respect that Mr. Whitechapel demonstrates toward Whitechapel, and the fact that her husband succeeded in punishing Sanders for his... (full context)
Chapter 5: Chapel
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
Chapel describes life in the master ’s house, recalling in particular his time with Mr. Whitechapel’s daughter, Lydia, who has taught... (full context)
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
...and watching Lydia listen to him with closed eyes, he is suddenly startled to see Mr. Whitechapel enter the room. Lydia’s father orders her out of the room and whips Chapel with... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
Reacting to Mr. Whitechapel ’s beating, Chapel says he deserves to be a slave and claims obedience to his... (full context)
Chapter 6: Plantation Owners
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Mr. Whitechapel prepares to meet his fellow plantation owners, whom he knows will ridicule him. He feels... (full context)
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
When Mr. Whitechapel ’s carriage approaches the building, the plantation owners are amused and wonder why Mr. Whitechapel... (full context)
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
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When Mr. Whitechapel enters the building, trying to convince himself that this is his home because his father... (full context)
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
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Meanwhile, the other plantation owners mock Mr. Whitechapel for being a hypocrite, emphasizing that Chapel’s death proves that Mr. Whitechapel’s beliefs about slaves’... (full context)
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
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Mr. Whitechapel feels that half of him joins in the plantation owners’ collective merriment, while another half... (full context)
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When Mr. Whitechapel takes a moment to think of Chapel to himself, he realizes guiltily that, after this... (full context)
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Mr. Whitechapel then resolves to tell the plantation owners about Chapel’s true identity in a mysterious way,... (full context)
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
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When the plantation owners mention the slave Whitechapel, Mr. Whitechapel resolves to finally tell these men the truth about Chapel more directly. However, they keep... (full context)
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Mr. Whitechapel finally feels at peace and ceases to be conflicted, as he feels included in the... (full context)
Chapter 8: Cook
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...not fully his. When she walks toward the sound and listens through the door where Mr. Whitechapel keeps his books—a room Cook has never dared enter—she hears Chapel reading loud and strong,... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
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...Instead, she feels a swelling of pride at knowing that her son can sound like the master . At the same time, she worries about having to talk about this with Whitechapel. (full context)
Chapter 9: Lydia
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
Lydia recounts the day her father, Mr. Whitechapel , caught her reading with Chapel. She describes the feeling of falling in love with... (full context)
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Mr. Whitechapel reprimands Lydia for teaching Chapel to read, telling her that she has committed an injustice... (full context)
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
The two of them agree to meet on clear nights and, to avoid disobeying Mr. Whitechapel , Chapel says that he will compose lines in his mind, which Lydia can write... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...each other. Chapel tells Lydia not to turn around, so that he will not disobey Mr. Whitechapel , who has told him never to see her again. For the next months, the... (full context)
Chapter 10: Lydia
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...her to walk with a book on her head, and Lydia amuses her brothers and Mr. Whitechapel by piling more books, until the Spenser, Milton, and Shakespeare fall from her head. Outside,... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
When Mr. Whitechapel sees Lydia’s lack of interest in her suitors, he calls her into his study and... (full context)
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...trip to the North, which he refuses. Thomas mentions her request to their father and Mr. Whitechapel interrogates Lydia about it, who answers by saying that she is hoping she might find... (full context)
Chapter 12: Great Granddaughter
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...slaves got together to decide what to do. Whitechapel said he wanted to talk to Mr. Whitechapel , and people thought he had gone crazy. However, he argued that he knew what... (full context)
Chapter 13: Sanders Junior
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Punishment and Cruelty Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Family Theme Icon
...away and places the blame for what has happened on him. He also notes that Mr. Whitechapel himself had previously agreed that two hundred lashes would be an adequate punishment for a... (full context)
Freedom vs. Obedience Theme Icon
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
...Junior insists that slavery is a business, and that all the slaves’ lives belong to Mr. Whitechapel , which means that slaves should not rebel. He adds that he liked Whitechapel because... (full context)
Forgetting
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...knows life as a slave on a plantation. When he revealed his son’s whereabouts to Mr. Whitechapel , Whitechapel wondered at the time if he was doing something wrong—a fear that came... (full context)