Attack by Text

by kimberlypleasance

In Jamaica Kincaid’s book A Small Place, emotions come to the forefront for both reader and author. The book can be classed as a memoir as Kincaid writes from personal experience and opinion. It is based on Antigua; the Island where Kincaid grew up until she was 17. It begins by placing the reader in the position of a tourist travelling to Antigua. Kincaid then guides the reader through their arrival to the island and tells them how to think and feel. Soon the focus shifts from the reader as the tourist to the author as a native of the land. Kincaid does not hold back on her knowledge and feelings towards Antigua and the people who set it up for failure; the British. Kincaid touches on the history and present day conditions of Antigua, blurring the line between fact and fiction as she offers inside information along with her outspoken opinion.

Kincaid’s writing style is direct and blunt. From the beginning Kincaid speaks directly to the reader labelling the reader as “you”. The use of this word places the reader in the story and is used to constantly tell the reader how to feel and what to think. “If you go to Antigua as a tourist, this is what you will see” (3). Not only does the reader feel in Kincaid’s control but Kincaid assumes who you are, “…you are a tourist, a North American or European – to be frank, white – and not an Antiguan black…” (4). Kincaid then proceeds to make rather harsh judgements against “you”. “The thing you have always suspected about yourself the minute you become a tourist is true: A tourist is an ugly human being” (14). Kincaid`s harsh words and accusations give the reader reason to feel angry and verbally assaulted. This process of attack compels the reader to see another side and fulfil the purpose of this small book.

The aim of Kincaid`s book A Small Place, is to show the reader why Antigua is corrupt and how this is connected to “you”. “Have you ever wondered to yourself why it is that all we seem to have learned from you is how to corrupt our societies and how to be tyrants? You will have to accept that this is mostly your fault” (34). While Kincaid is successful at articulating the damaging affect “white” people have had on Antiguans, she is also successful at accusing the reader and any “white” person of being at fault. “You murdered people. You imprisoned people. You robbed people” (35). Through her constant use of the word “you” the reader feels the need to defend oneself.

A small place is an intriguing little book sure to bring out the worst emotions in a reader. While Kincaid`s point of view is interesting and true to a point she takes it beyond what one would expect. Attacking the reader is what makes this book so interesting and un-enjoyable. If this attack by text interests “you”, then read A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid. But consider yourself warned.

Words: 507

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One Comment to “Attack by Text”

  1. Hahahaha, I like the title

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