A Small Place: Accusing Antigua

by valdesjoha

Born as Elaine Richardson in St. John’s, Antigua, Jamaica Kincaid changed her name, as her family did not approve of her writing.  Possible reasons for disapproval can be perceived when reading her essay titled A Small Place. Simple and divided into four parts, Kincaid portrays precisely her thoughts on New Antigua and her resentment of its past.

Puzzling to allocate such a book into a specific category, Kincaid begins her bitter narration assuming that readers are tourists in this small exotic island of Antigua. As the first section is read, you take the role of perhaps an ignorant visitor traveling for a short time by reason of getting away from your developed land and habitual lifestyle.  Presumed that your short stay would be without worry and brimming with pleasure, the living conditions of locals “must never cross your mind” (Kincaid, 4).  Following a conceivably satirical opening, Kincaid then recalls Antigua and its occupation by Great Britain.  Irritated with the English culture and legacy of slavery at the time, she finds that the oppression of the past continues to corrupt Antiguans in the present.  Moving her focus back to present day, Kincaid then analyzes further the dishonesty of those in power such as the re-building of an old library not motivated by the desire to aid but rather to remember previous forms of ruling.  She continues to criticize Antiguan authorities as well as articulating the fears inhabitants have of the future. 

Despite her resentment of past influence, Kincaid concludes with a passage expressing the splendor of the island of Antigua.  As poverty is a component in the everyday lives of Antiguans, this essay is metaphorical to the crises that many developing nations face.  With a firm state of mind in her arguments, the message of A Small Place is open to the interpretation of the reader.


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