Kincaid’s small place: Antigua

by stefmiele

A Small Place is a short story, written in first person narrative, by Jamaica Kincaid. Although labeled a short story, A Small Place, could be looked at as a memoir as well, as Kincaid expresses in the book from individual experience and self stated opinion.  Antigua, which was formerly a British Colony, is Kincaid’s treading grounds, and has been ever until she was 17, making her accustom with the situation Antigua is in, which leads her to explore the tough issues of her nation like government, corruption and economy. Although using Kincaid’s personal experiences, A Small Place’s principle message focuses on the main source of income, which is tourism on the small island country of Antigua, and it holds several of industry for many of the problems that the country encounters with.

What is unique about Kincaid’s book is the way she opens while addressing the reader as, “you,” throughout A Small Place. The opening scene she describes the vacation experience that a “typical” tourist would partake in Antigua, as well as what this person does not understand about this two-faced place: “If you go to Antigua as a tourist, this is what you will see” (3). Kincaid’s “typical” tourist is a white, middle-class person from Europe, the United States, or Canada. As the introduction digresses Kincaid does not continue with this soft, easy-going talk about tourists as she started with, illustrating her feelings when she says: “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 brings an end to A Small Place starting with a recreation of the passionate somatic splendor of Antigua. Describing the beauty as so intense as to appear “illusory,” like an illustration.

Word Count: 291


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