Wanted: Resilient Readers

by derekmcc

The novel by Jamacia Kincaid titled A Small Place is a book that acquires mixed reviews due the aggressive nature of the author’s tone throughout the book. This piece explores the effects of colonialism on Antigua as well as the roles played by tourism and government corruption on the suppression of Antiguan culture and economy. Despite its short length relative to other novels, it packs with it many questions that encourage the reader to critically analyze the topics all through the book.

A refreshing, yet controversial, new style of raising awareness to important issues is introduced in this novel. A common way of seeking attention is the method of pleading and begging for the reader’s (or in the case of infomercials, the viewer’s) attention. However, in this book the author uses a very unique technique of verbally attacking and accusing the reader to capture attention. This new, hostile approach effectively dares the reader to break free from the bindings of regular westernized life and reanalyze the world they perceive by criticizing him or her, as shown in the quote “as an ordinary person you are not well equipped to look too far inward and set yourself aright”. This style may aggravate the reader at first, but the vivid depictions of government corruption as luxurious mansions for those in power flourish while schools and libraries deteriorate will soon give the reader an understanding of the frustration see through a native’s eye.

I, like many, was at first quite irritated with the books virtually racist stereotypes of Caucasians.  However, as the cultural concealment is illustrated as a consequence of colonialism, I began to understand the hardships felt by the Antiguans. The images of colonial and post-colonial Antigua depicted by Kincaid also effectively reflect on main themes. It would be a mistake to take offense to this book before understanding its true intent.

 

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One Comment to “Wanted: Resilient Readers”

  1. Hm, I never really exactly got the feeling that Caucasians were being stereotyped all that much, but rather the hatred and anger was being directed more towards the governments of certain nations.

    I felt, as someone who isn’t Caucasian, just as attacked and stereotyped as I would if I was Caucasian. But, it’s an interesting point of view, and a good discussion topic for sure.

    Good read!

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