Posts tagged ‘Antigua’

March 14, 2011

Are you considered a gullible Tourist? Or an experienced World Traveler?

by jsimak

Antigua, an island nine miles wide by twelve miles long, a beautiful island, an island whose beauty seems unreal, a place that one would want to consider visiting to escape the cramped concrete walls of a city. Antigua, whose natives that inhabit the island cannot stand a tourist from America, or worse, Europe.

The island of Antigua, a place one would give a second thought to visiting after reading Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place.  This short eighty-four page mixed narrative expresses not only Kincaid’s view of Antigua from her personal point of view, but also through a brief second person narrative; similar to a travel editorial guiding the reader through the sights and experiences as they step off the plane into Antigua and set off into the city.

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March 14, 2011

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.

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March 13, 2011

In a Small Place?

by Brian Rapanos

In a Small Place seems like an unusual title for this book. Geographically speaking, Antigua is quite small for an island: roughly 281 km2. When observing a world atlas, Antigua could easily be mistaken for an inconspicuous dot.  Seemingly enveloped by the surrounding waters, to say that Antigua is small might be an understatement. Regardless of its apparent physical size, Antigua is quite the juxtaposition when compared to the magnitude of Jamaica Kincaid’s words.

The passion exuded by Kincaid is frightening to behold. In A Small Place, Kincaid works herself into a choler of self-righteous fury aimed to expose the inequality, corruption, and injustice in Antigua. Few are spared from Kincaid’s wrathful words. In broad strokes she dismisses most of Western Civilization as well as the English and Swiss, but in particular her most spiteful comments are aimed at tourists- or “ugly human beings” (14). Her critique isn’t excluded to present times; she also denounces historical figures such as Christopher Columbus who were alive five-hundred years ago.

There is a lot of truth to what Kincaid says. Though watered down with sarcastic and biased overtones, Kincaid is exposing an often overlooked aspect of what many would call paradise. Oftentimes people are reluctant to question anything in life, preferring to stay content in ignorance. The truth can hurt and this book, if anything, proves that. Kincaid forces you to contemplate not only traveling, but the essence of Western life. Why is it that we need to “get away from it all”? What are we running from and, more directly pertaining, what are we running to? Antigua is not the only place with dual identities; Antigua could easily be replaced with Mexico or Hawaii. What Kincaid is saying is universal.

Born in Antigua herself and now living in Vermont, Kincaid is granted a unique perspective to address the issues of post-colonialism, corruption, and inequality in Antigua. These issues need to be addressed but Kincaid’s thoughts are disfigured with biased language and little understanding given to any perspective contrary to her own. Her statements are often over-generalizing and lacking in any academic weight.  I feel that her intense feelings are a major obstacle in achieving her means: that we no longer remain ignorant to the plight of post-colonial, poverty stricken countries. If a more rational, though no less passionate view was given, I would be more inclined to give weight to this book. To quote Mohandas Ghandi, “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.”

Word Count: 421

March 13, 2011

Ignorant Tourists Only See Beauty

by kristiemendoza

Jamaica Kincaid’s, A Small Place, is an extensive piece of non-fiction literature written in the form of an essay. She writes about her home in Antigua and gives a very expressive view of the relationship between the native Antiguan and a tourist: “A tourist is an ugly human-being” (14).

The opening to the book is filled with candour and poignancy. She puts into account of all the “beauty” the tourist sees; yet, for the natives who live there and work for the industries, poverty is the only thing that is seen. After gaining back their freedom from their colonizer, their cities and infrastructure collapsed. This story is being told of post imperialism and of a people’s nation to be independent and free from those who held them captive as slaves. The society of Antigua is corrupted of big industries that prevent their culture and identity from being successful.

Kincaid’s elaborate essay is pressing and filled with such lyrical flow. Her descriptive writing makes the readers feel as if they are in the Caribbean Island. The reader is taken on a tour to various places, such as the Caribbean Sea, the Holberton Hospital, and the Government House. The reader is like the tourist and is too blind to see the people in Antigua struggle through the hardships in their lives.

Truth and anger is exposed through Kincaid’s persuasive and emotional words to raise awareness. Her piece of writing is beautiful and should not be put down until it is finished. This is for anyone that is interested in hearing a unique perspective on the effect of the European empire on the natives of Antigua.

Word Count: 272

March 10, 2011

An island without voice

by tunghsin

A Small Place is a short 81 page, non-fiction travel writing and personal history set in arthur Jamaica Kincaid’s small native Caribbean island Antigua. When browsing in the bookstore it is highly possible to find A Small Place under many different categories such as autobiography, politics and history. Furthermore, People may expect a novel written by a Caribbean native, is a story about personal struggle and the uncivilized conditions they lived in. However, it is written in short chapters that could be presented as individual essays with the main focus of the view of the native Antiguan to the tourist, or the view of any natives to their modern invaders.

The historical text is presenting through Kincaid’s highly subjective personal point of view to the extent in which Kincaid addresses the reader directly as “you”. The arthur’s negative depiction of tourist is very obvious throughout. She seems to chastise Americans and Europeans for being able to afford to remain in luxurious accommodations and to enjoy a week of sun and fun. The accusatory tone and message make me as a reader feel offensive and think twice before travelling to Antigua. Furthermore, the writing seems plainly written yet has underlying meanings. For example, the comment of the American tourist in the novel is made to depict the tourist as ignorant and superior feeling towards the natives. Kincaid not only focuses on the irony of all the beauty the tourist sees as compared to the poverty of those that live there and work for these industries, but also discusses the dilapidation of their cities and infrastructure after gaining their independence back from their European colonizer. Hence, this is a classical tale of post-colonialism with the struggle of a nation and its people to be independent from been held captive as slaves, yet struggling to find balance from governmental corruption.

Overall, Kincaid’s pointed words are very powerful. She successfully introduced and educated the tourists of the Caribbean native’s point of view and their life stories to create more awareness and voice to the world. I strongly encourage you to take part of Kincaid’s adventure in Antigua, a small place.

(357 W)

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March 9, 2011

Let the Finger Pointing Begin

by deenaliguori

If you are the typical tourist who goes to foreign countries and like to enjoy yourself by exploring other cultures then A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid is the book for you. Kincaid is an Antiguan native who expresses her views of Antigua to the average tourist.  Kincaid was born in Antigua and moved to the United States at the age of 16. At times she is abrupt and in your face and questions your thoughts as a traveler. This book will have you second guessing yourself and what you truly do not think nor see when you are too busy vacationing. Kincaid also writes in depth about the Antigua she knew growing up and what really lies behind the spectacular beauty of the small island. Through Kincaid’s opinions and thoughts of the Antigua she knew and what it has become she gets you thinking about the life you live and how lucky you are.

One of the first things you notice when you open the book and begin to read is that the book is divided into four parts. What may be confusing for some reader is that the “chapters” have no titles, but simply faint black and white pictures of Antigua. I found this unique as it was something I have never seen done before. Kincaid’s imagery for example when she speaks about the clear blue ocean or the vast countryside is truly impressive. When reading I even looked up Antigua on the computer. It seemed so beautiful and too good to be true that I had to see an actual photo to believe it. The tone in this book is like no other. Throughout this book you will find yourself stopping and thinking about what Kincaid describes. The way Kincaid attacks you through this book is a bit much but she does manage to get her points across well. In this book you will feel like the finger is always being pointed at you and you are always wrong, which can be a bit frustrating at times.  Like when Kincaid brings up the point that all tourists are ugly, let’s face it who is she to say that? This book not only gives you an in depth look at Antigua but questions you in ways you never truly would as a tourist.

I felt at times it was hard to continue reading when Kincaid was expressing her views, and being hypocritical. She came off as too strong, and I felt she could have expressed her thoughts in a different softer tone than always making us, the average tourist feel like such a bad people. I do feel Kincaid has many true facts about tourists and how oblivious they can be to the realities of its people. Maybe if she went about writing her book in a different way rather than always making us the reader feel at fault then maybe this would have been a great book to recommend.

 

 

 

 

March 9, 2011

A Reality Check

by aliwhitee

Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place examines the history of Antigua through the eyes of someone who has lived through and experienced the oppression and frustrations felt by many Antiguans. Her raw and harsh portrayal of the contrast between the tourists and the locals places a feeling of guilt within the reader, who has more than likely been a tourist themselves. Kincaid opens the book with an emotion-evoking chapter on the view of the native Antiguan to the tourist, who she narrows down to mostly white Europeans or Americans. Her direct and potent insults illustrate her hatred towards tourists, referring to them as, “An ugly thing, that is what you are when you become a tourist, and ugly, empty thing, a stupid thing, a piece of rubbish pausing here and there to gaze at this and taste that…” (17). Kincaid then goes on to show her detestation for Britain who was responsible for the colonization of Antigua, and her bitterness with the legacies of slavery that took place on this small island. She directly blames the British for the complete devastation of her country and asserts that, “no natural disaster imaginable could equal the harm that they did.” (23-24)

Kincaid’s writing portrays her disappointment with the new, “free” Antigua, especially the loss of social values and the corruption that plagued the government and those higher up in society. She also references the library several times in the book, which was damaged in the 1974 earthquake, to demonstrate Antigua’s problems, repairs to which are also “pending.” (42) Although the library was a British colonial building, Kincaid refers to it with a sentimental view, plaintive about the loss of books and location of the building. Overall, Kincaid’s opinionated writing outlines Antigua’s destroyed culture and society; the few rich Antiguans on the island will not fund reparations of the old library, and therefore will not aid in the repair of the nation as whole. A Small Place is a very simple-written book, but has a lasting impact on the reader that is somewhat of a reality check. With such a beautiful setting, tourists are often led to believe a place like Antigua is paradise. This book articulates the crisis plaguing many developing nations that although independent, still have not yet shaken off the negative legacies of colonialism. Although Antigua is a small pace, as referred to several times, huge events with life-changing impacts on its citizens have occurred. Moreover, this is a highly recommendable read to all who want their eyes opened to the realities of the world’s suffering nations.

 

 

 

March 9, 2011

A Small Book With A Big Voice.

by karmill

The book, A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid, is difficult to categorize as a single genre. It could be considered an autobiography, yet could also be considered as History, Political, Travel, Opinion or general Non-Fiction. The book is an expression of the author’s opinions about her experiences as a child growing up on the British colonized island of Antigua, and her views on tourism, government, slavery, racism and unions. Throughout the text, Kincaid expresses her anger that, through no fault of its own, Antigua is no longer what it once was. She states that this is due to many factors, and discusses the Antigua that she knew as a child is not as it was because the ones who ran it, the British as colonizers, no longer run it. She also stresses that prior to her history, Antigua was affected by the European slave trade, the white man’s education system which ignored local custom, history and culture and taught only all things British.
Kincaid uses second person narrative in this book, which makes her statements and comments very direct and blunt to the reader. From the beginning, she uses the word you to address the reader, and begins as if one was a tourist arriving in Antigua. The narrative takes you, the tourist, from the plane through the town to the hotel, all the while projecting her opinions and thoughts onto you, the tourist, in a manner not very flattering. She continues this projection throughout the book, making you into the British rulers, corrupt governors, rich expatriates, all the time projecting her opinions onto each you character.
Kincaid introduces the subject of the formerly splendid, but now damaged library early in the book, explaining the damage from the Earthquake in 1974 and that repairs are pending. The library is used as a representation of everything wrong with how Antigua was treated, and is referenced several times during the book. She says that, as a tourist, you might think it part of the quaintness of the people, descended from slaves, and their unusual sense of time, and not to think of all the unpleasant history and struggles of these quaint people. The library is referred to again as a British colonial building, housing British culture, British values and especially British law. Kincaid then refers to the library nostalgically, lamenting the loss of the beauty, atmosphere, location by the ocean, and the wealth of books available. She mourns the fact that the collection from the old library is housed above a dry-goods store, with most of the books in dusty boxes, unavailable for use. Yet, the unkind expatriates with money will not provide the funds to repair the old library.
Kincaid refers to Antigua several times as a small place. For such a small place, many big events with huge repercussions happened there, and she defends the Antiguans with a very large voice. But, she is careful to point out that, in the end, we are all just human.

March 9, 2011

“Things Are Not as Beautiful as They Seem”

by jessicamethven

A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid is a unique book set in Antigua, which is written in first person. Kincaid captures the reader in the first of four sections with her blunt perception of what a typical tourist would experience when first arriving in her native country. In her narrative she outlines that tourist have high expectations for this beautiful island and are able to experience its beauty while absurdly being sheltered from the harsh realities the locals are faced with. Kincaid describes how the British have altered the real Antigua, and how the Antigua she once knew as a child no longer exists. She questions if Antigua was better off before it became independent from the British; discussing the harsh realities of the corrupted government. However Kincaid leaves the reader feeling positive about Antigua by outlining how Antigua has and always will have unreal natural beauty.

A Small Place is written with loose sentence structure and language. This allows the reader to feel as though Kincaid is directly speaking to them as she tells her story of Antigua. It seems as though the reader is having a conversation with Kincaid without having a chance to respond. She uses the word “you” frequently to directly attack and also speak to the reader.  This literary device helps Kincaid accentuate the readers sense of responsibly for the Antigua that exists today. The sentence structure or lack there of, makes the story feel personalized and realistic. The use of language shows how passionate Kincaid feels about her country; again contrasting not only its corruption but also its natural beauty. She uses a sarcastic tone while addressing tourists; suggesting tourists feel they have no worries when they arrive in Antigua.

The novel is written through Kincaid’s personal perspective and experiences. She directly attacks the typical white tourist who comes to Antigua for a break. A tourist looking for a break from everyday life, something Antiguans are unable to escape. Kincaid’s tone is angry and blatant; a form of jealousy is also distinguished from the Antiguans. Kincaid rants about how Antiguans are treated differently from white tourists in their own country. As a reader you feel attacked; feeling as though you have done something wrong within the first few pages. She describes how the British ruined Antigua and how corruption is now the reality of their government. Kincaid wonders if British rule would have actually been better for Antigua, also leaving the reader feeling the same.

The attack on the reader within this short read of eighty-one pages is startling, but also refreshing. Feeling as though you are in an actual conversation with someone who has grown up in Antigua. So the reader can experience first hand the things tourists are most commonly sheltered from; giving the reader a completely different view. The openness of the novel helps to pry the reader from expected generalizations or expectations. Kincaid states her opinion directly in front of you, not holding back. This book is perfect for prospective travellers or for people who have already travelled. It dives under the surface of what travellers typically experience while on vacation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                   Word count: 512

March 8, 2011

Calling All Tourists

by alessandranakhleh

“If you go to Antigua as a tourist, this is what you will see” (1).  Read the first line of Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place and be ready to strap yourself in for a ride.  Antiguan native, Kincaid is a novelist, gardener, and former reporter for The New Yorker Magazine, while also a professor of literature.  In a memoir just under eighty-five pages Kincaid wastes no time, but cuts right into the meat of her beliefs.  After experiencing a rough childhood filled with discontent, Kincaid has developed strong feelings for people who choose to vacation in her motherland.  Splitting her essay into four sections allows Kincaid to dedicate each section to a specific aspect of Antigua, giving her reader a look into both the past and present.  Assuming her audience is either American or European, Kincaid talks to the reader as a tourist who is presumably well educated enough to be aware of Antiguan difficulties, but carefree enough to push aside such knowledge in order to enjoy a vacation.  Speaking as an Antiguan, Kincaid states the reasons why a native “does not like a tourist is not hard to explain” (18).  Kincaid draws attention to those tourists who try to blend in with locals, while never failing to “look silly”.  Reminding the reader that Antiguans were once British subjects, Kincaid addresses the imperfections of her homeland, the “desperation and depression” (18) of natives, the envy they feel watching tourists indulge in pleasure.  Written in such a way that the audience is being questioned, we, as readers are forced to look deeper into ourselves to interpret what Kincaid is preaching.  It is each reader’s duty to decide whether or not they choose to accept the challenge of looking beyond the physical beauty of a vacation spot to see the true harsh realities.  In order to dive into A Small Place, a reader must have an open mind – ready to appreciate Kincaid’s different points of view, and along with an open mind, readers must be equipped with a tough skin – not subject to get offended when being called an “ugly human being” (14).  By the end of the short book Kincaid has inevitably entered the conscience of her readers by directing them to an unpleasant side of tourism.  As a reader I enjoyed Kincaid’s style of writing, and I felt I was able to appreciate her views, although, I do not agree with all of her claims on tourists, as I have been one myself.  Kincaid forces us to examine the culture of tourism, to think twice about the places we visit, and the people who call it a home, while directly encouraging us to view it as a place much more complex than its physical beauty.  I would invite adults of all ages to indulge in Kincaid’s point of view, allowing her message to spread, intoxicating the population with a deeper respect and awareness for the natives of their next vacation spot.