A Big Bite for a Small Place

by chrislansigan

           Jamaica Kincaid, the author of “A Small Place”, knows how to really express her ideology down into a short novel. Her main point that she tends to draw out numerous times is that her beautiful home country of Antigua was simply ruined by foreign colonizers, whether it had to do with construction or living space or slavery. Opening up the book, Kincaid goes straight to the fact of how tourists act in Antigua, and are seen as the ‘unwanted’ people by the locals, and as she depicts at the end of the first section. “An ugly thing, that is what you are when you become a tourist, an ugly, empty thing, a stupid thing, a piece of rubbish pausing here and there to gaze at this and that, and it will never occur to you that the people who inhabit the place in which you have just paused cannot stand you…” (pg. 17). This is essential, because it states how the narrator is going to communicate to the reader throughout the entire novel by repetitively being so negative towards the intended audience, which are clearly all the non-third world inhabitants of the world.

          Kincaid stresses on the fact that her country is powerless when it came to political issues, mostly because of the influence and corruption within the government. She is constantly attacking foreign influence throughout her piece, which can become somewhat bitter after a certain amount of her excessive thoughts cover page to page. I think that it is exceptional that she expresses her true feelings of what happened to her country in the past, but the constant biting at the tourists for just being a normal visitor is completely unnecessary and irrelevant. Summing up the three main figures that affected Antigua the most, Kincaid shoves in our faces that all that the people there were properly educated in were “how to imprison and murder each other, how to govern badly, and how to take [my country’s] wealth…in Swiss bank accounts” (Pg. 34). She takes delight in reminding us how we used them to our own advantage, which works in her favour when proving her points.  

              Kincaid does not choose to write delicately; rather, she writes with explicit emotions and an obvious resentment and anger, not caring what her audience presumes when they read her book. This is admirable, but at the same time can brew much disagreement, because this trait divides her readers who take the time to sit down and open the novel, into the ones with respect for her truthfulness, and the ones that simply shake their heads at what they are looking at. Besides the invigorating assaults on the conscience mind, this book is worth picking up and reading through in one go, for you can learn a lot from this book about small beautiful places, and what really goes on behind the shiny, bare-laid beaches and hotels with the locals. But, if you enjoy the life of tourism, prepare for a frontline ambush and man the trenches, for you will need the firepower to keep a hold of this novel while reading it in a good mood.

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