Antigua: A Very Small Place

by ToryFinnSaarinen

Jamaica Kincaid takes on a bold tone in her short book, A Small Place. She dismembers the stereotypical view of Antigua as a delightful tourist destination exposes the flaws of its reality. She gets her ideas across using repetition and a unique narrative that seems to makes Antigua’s problems personal.

Kincaid does this by guiding “you,” (Kincaid 1) the reader, as a tourist, on a tour of the island. She puts herself into the book as a character and uses second person narrative which catches the audience off guard and captures the reader’s attention. Kincaid reminds you throughout the book that “you are a tourist,” (Kincaid 4) doing your tourist things and indirectly accuses you for some the problems that plague the island of Antigua. This may agitate some readers and she uses this hook to relay the rest of her ideas about Antigua’s government and infrastructure.

Kincaid makes note of significant anomalies in the island landscape you see on your taxi ride from the airport to your hotel room. For example, “You pass a building sitting in a sea of dust and you think, It’s some latrines for people just passing by, but when you look again you see the building has written on it PIGGOT’S SCHOOL.” What looks like a place to go to the bathroom is actually a school. This illustrates that Antigua’s infrastructure is crumbling while the rich people who ‘own’ Antigua are getting along just fine: “Overlooking the drug smuggler’s mansion is yet another mansion, and leading up to it is the best paved road in all of Antigua.” This line denotes that Antiguans have accepted the fact that a drug smuggler lives in a beautiful mansion in Antigua, which does not seem like a normal concept to the reader.

Kincaid comes across strong using repetition to drive points home. The following is an example. “Antigua is a small place. Antigua is a very small place.” (Kincaid 56) The fact that Antigua is nine miles by twelve miles in size is also mentioned several times throughout the book to reinforce the idea that Antigua is a small place. “Antigua is beautiful. Antigua is too beautiful.” (Kincaid 77) This line also illustrates her use of repetition. Its something the reader may not notice at first but it works for Kincaid.

So by grabbing the attention of the reader using various techniques, Kincaid is able to convey her argument successfully. An interesting read.


Works Cited

Kincaid, Jamaica.  A Small Place.  New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988. Print

Word Count: 406



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