Garden of Thought

by djohnson9

Jamaica Kincaid’s writings of A Small Place are fuelled by her passion for her homeland and the predicament which she sees them as being placed into with little or no signs of change to come. Kincaid’s writings have clearly been inspired by her growing up on the island of Antigua the former colony of the British Empire. This piece of writing goes about describing the way in which “you”(1) or us the tourists see her homeland compared to what the “island” lifestyle” is really like on a day to day basis. She goes through the way which it is portrayed or masked for our eyes, when really so little is done that it is astounding. We are given Kincaid’s personal feelings about the structure of government as well as the impacts which colonialism has had on this nation similar to the effects which have been seen on almost every continent where European colonization has occurred. Kincaid portrays the government in a light which emphasises their corruption and the lack of progress away from times during British rule.

Through her writings we gain an insight into the lives of the peoples whose home we visit, yet they, “are too poor to escape”(19) from the very places we wish to visit. Kincaid describes the state of affairs within the nation of Antigua and the seemingly limitless shortcomings of the government. The main emphasis which Kincaid stresses is that even though the island of Antigua is no longer under colonial rule, the system of exploitation and the gap between those who rule and those who make up the population still remains. This fact is emphasised by the repeated mention of the state of the medical systems on the island. Kincaid is adamant that, “All the ministers of Government go overseas for medical treatment” (66) .  However Kincaid’s criticisms lack certain validity for a few reasons.

For readers such as me who have looked into the life of Kincaid we find her preaching to the shortcomings of a government somewhat troubling for a few reasons. Kincaid writes with a passion for her homeland calling into question the cycle of abuse and mistrust that comes to pass through the process of colonization, yet one is likely to question what authority she speaks on. Kincaid is removed from what she depicts as a struggle against the corruption of the government. Yet Kincaid is described as “a Caribbean novelist, gardener, and gardening author” this being said one may question the authority which she can speak on as she appears as more of an outsider than a true Antiguian living this life.

To say that what Kincaid is saying lacks any truth is a false statement, as there is no doubt that the political system within the country as well as those outside of it do little to improve the lives of these islanders. When the, “government is for sale; anybody from anywhere”(47) can get whatever they wish from this system in place.  However for myself Kincaid’s residence of Vermont as well as being described as a gardening author by Wikipedia does take away from her more than her writings and as such makes me dislike this novel. The diction with which Kincaid writes, filled with passion, can come off as being over aggressive and lacking in a solid foundation of ongoing personal struggle which she makes it appear that she possess.


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