What YOU Should Know

by alyssajai

In Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place, Kincaid uses her literary talent to address life in her birthplace of Antigua. Using a unique approach, Kincaid discusses Antigua as an escape from reality for vacationers versus the actual reality the natives face. Exploring this irony, Kincaid divulges into the raw history of colonization and corruption as well as the injustices occurring today. Writing with swift lyric, Kincaid poetically allows the reader to discover the richness of the world and culture beyond the sandy beaches, blue water, and never-ending sun or Antigua.
Kincaid very purposely addresses the reader as a tourist who is “- to be frank, white” (4). This attack on the reader is simply that, an attack. Not only does Kincaid describe the actions of a typical traveler but she also attaches a racial bias. Kincaid draws a distinct line between the native and non- native. As she emphasizes to the reader that the natives “cannot stand you” she ultimately advertises Antigua as a place “YOU” should not travel to (17). However, although this attack on the reader can be disconcerting, Kincaid uses it to emphasize the depth of differences between the native culture and the visiting culture. The conditions of the local community are again highlighted as the reader is places at the opposite spectrum in every way possibly. The dual perspectives Kincaid uses provide the text with an overall sense of Antigua. Although the visitor sees the climate as “deliciously hot and dry” it does not mean this is not so (4). However, Kincaid uses the polar opposite view of the residing community to also acknowledge that they “suffer constantly from drought” and this is an issue that they struggle to deal with (4). Kincaid utilizes typical aspects and traits of western culture to stress the corruption and issues present within her home country.
Ultimately, Kincaid forces the reader to explore Antigua from the view of a born and raised Antiguan. She uses a unique style to engage the reader and force the reader to uncover problems within the country. She illustrates the historical corruption within Antigua and also those which exist today. Kincaid’s irresistible style ultimately explores Antigua and the conditions that the culture has faced.

Word Count: 368

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


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