A Small Place

by Aurelea

By ChrisWilcox

“Do I look out of place? Are those people disgusted at me? Am I unwanted here?” These are questions very few people ask themselves every day and even less so when it comes to being a tourist. Yet this is something that is a common theme within Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place. “Every tourist is a native somewhere and every native is a potential tourist” These words speak profoundly in the book as it reflects how Kincaid sincerely feels about the world as she takes us on a tour of her home, Antigua.

In the beginning of the book, Kincaid starts us off in the back seat of a taxi cab where we first start off our relationship with Antigua. As the book progresses our view as a tourist is intentionally warped in order to show how beautiful things can have dark stains. Slowly the reader starts to realize the lack of beauty in Antigua and then questions how we ought to view people and places every day. Despite the sarcastic tone, this seems to be one of the main themes throughout the book.

One of the author’s goals it seems is to be more humble about our surroundings. What Kincaid really asks is for us to keep in mind where we are at all times. In A Small Place, we the reader are in Antigua but what Kincaid would like us to consider is that we are also in someone else’s home. We are visitors, Antiguans are hosts, but regardless we are all humans. The way the book ends shows us that the British nobles who colonized Antigua and their slaves are all the same. Kincaid invites us to reconsider how we see skin colour, language, political values, religion, and wants us to focus on things that make us human together.

With this in mind, we see that Antigua was not built with united people. As we move through the novel we see that A Small Place was built up of inequality and colonialism. Someone was right and someone was wrong; one person was a visitor, the other was a native. This kind of disregard for the other person can be seen through symbolic means in regards to the local library in Antigua. The building was damaged and is in a state of pending repair. It’s a place that everybody could enjoy but due to disregard for one another, nobody has rebuilt it.

Although only eighty-one pages, Kincaid’s book is quite grand in what it stands for in regards to courtesy, respect, and equality. People should keep in mind what it’s like to be in another person’s shoes and need to think what it’d be like not to have a reputable hospital or a library. Kincaid really challenges us to remember that beautiful places like Antigua came at the cost of someone else giving up their home. Should we choose to go somewhere, we should always consider how people view us and how we view people.


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