“Things Are Not as Beautiful as They Seem”

by jessicamethven

A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid is a unique book set in Antigua, which is written in first person. Kincaid captures the reader in the first of four sections with her blunt perception of what a typical tourist would experience when first arriving in her native country. In her narrative she outlines that tourist have high expectations for this beautiful island and are able to experience its beauty while absurdly being sheltered from the harsh realities the locals are faced with. Kincaid describes how the British have altered the real Antigua, and how the Antigua she once knew as a child no longer exists. She questions if Antigua was better off before it became independent from the British; discussing the harsh realities of the corrupted government. However Kincaid leaves the reader feeling positive about Antigua by outlining how Antigua has and always will have unreal natural beauty.

A Small Place is written with loose sentence structure and language. This allows the reader to feel as though Kincaid is directly speaking to them as she tells her story of Antigua. It seems as though the reader is having a conversation with Kincaid without having a chance to respond. She uses the word “you” frequently to directly attack and also speak to the reader.  This literary device helps Kincaid accentuate the readers sense of responsibly for the Antigua that exists today. The sentence structure or lack there of, makes the story feel personalized and realistic. The use of language shows how passionate Kincaid feels about her country; again contrasting not only its corruption but also its natural beauty. She uses a sarcastic tone while addressing tourists; suggesting tourists feel they have no worries when they arrive in Antigua.

The novel is written through Kincaid’s personal perspective and experiences. She directly attacks the typical white tourist who comes to Antigua for a break. A tourist looking for a break from everyday life, something Antiguans are unable to escape. Kincaid’s tone is angry and blatant; a form of jealousy is also distinguished from the Antiguans. Kincaid rants about how Antiguans are treated differently from white tourists in their own country. As a reader you feel attacked; feeling as though you have done something wrong within the first few pages. She describes how the British ruined Antigua and how corruption is now the reality of their government. Kincaid wonders if British rule would have actually been better for Antigua, also leaving the reader feeling the same.

The attack on the reader within this short read of eighty-one pages is startling, but also refreshing. Feeling as though you are in an actual conversation with someone who has grown up in Antigua. So the reader can experience first hand the things tourists are most commonly sheltered from; giving the reader a completely different view. The openness of the novel helps to pry the reader from expected generalizations or expectations. Kincaid states her opinion directly in front of you, not holding back. This book is perfect for prospective travellers or for people who have already travelled. It dives under the surface of what travellers typically experience while on vacation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                   Word count: 512


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