A Small Place with Big Problems

by brittlu

A Small Place, written by Jamaica Kincaid, is a capturing short story written about Kincaid’s home island of Antigua. There is no secret that right from the start the reader, a tourist, is attacked by the view of an Antiguan native, but her main focus is on the beauty the tourist sees when visiting the small island. Kincaid brilliantly compares the perfection that an outsider sees to the poverty of those that work for these depriving industries and that live there. She also brings light to the state of which the country is in after gaining their independence back from their colonizer, England. This is a classic story of a country and its people’s struggle to redeem their freedom back from the people who once took it all away; however, there are new problems that they have to overcome in ways they don’t know how.

Intimidation is the first word that comes to mind after reading this piece. Kincaid uses the shock and awe effect to really capture her reader’s attention. She also refers us as “the tourist” which helps us to imagine being there throughout the story. With this being said I found it interesting that Kincaid starts her short story off by saying “If you go to Antigua as a tourist, this is what you will see.”(3) After reading the whole piece I went back and really put the emphasis on the “if” because having travelled to many parts of the world I felt a bit offended that she would refer to everyone who travels as a “typical” tourist. I think Jamaica Kincaid opened our minds with this passionate story, and wants us to be respectful of our foreign surroundings so the “if” you travel people won’t take anything for granted.

This story is clearly written to be an eye opener through simple language with such deep underlying meaning. Kincaid shows such passion and emotion through imagery and historical events that you can’t help but feel for these people. Through her words, Kincaid wonderfully illustrates the reality of life of this small place and really captures the difference between the experiences of a tourist to those who live there. She explains how we can turn boredom of the natives into our entertainment and how we have the luxury to leave and come back to a safe home while others cannot.

Through Jamaica Kincaid’s honest and brilliant story I think we all learn the true story of the real Antigua. I would recommend this story to anyone who is open minded to other people’s views because from the start you are being attacked and accused of being this “ugly tourist” who is unwelcome. Though through Kincaid’s words, you can feel the raw and real emotion put into writing this story.

word count: 461


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