Posts tagged ‘corruption’

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 8, 2011

A Big Bite for a Small Place

by chrislansigan

           Jamaica Kincaid, the author of “A Small Place”, knows how to really express her ideology down into a short novel. Her main point that she tends to draw out numerous times is that her beautiful home country of Antigua was simply ruined by foreign colonizers, whether it had to do with construction or living space or slavery. Opening up the book, Kincaid goes straight to the fact of how tourists act in Antigua, and are seen as the ‘unwanted’ people by the locals, and as she depicts at the end of the first section. “An ugly thing, that is what you are when you become a tourist, an ugly, empty thing, a stupid thing, a piece of rubbish pausing here and there to gaze at this and that, and it will never occur to you that the people who inhabit the place in which you have just paused cannot stand you…” (pg. 17). This is essential, because it states how the narrator is going to communicate to the reader throughout the entire novel by repetitively being so negative towards the intended audience, which are clearly all the non-third world inhabitants of the world.

          Kincaid stresses on the fact that her country is powerless when it came to political issues, mostly because of the influence and corruption within the government. She is constantly attacking foreign influence throughout her piece, which can become somewhat bitter after a certain amount of her excessive thoughts cover page to page. I think that it is exceptional that she expresses her true feelings of what happened to her country in the past, but the constant biting at the tourists for just being a normal visitor is completely unnecessary and irrelevant. Summing up the three main figures that affected Antigua the most, Kincaid shoves in our faces that all that the people there were properly educated in were “how to imprison and murder each other, how to govern badly, and how to take [my country’s] wealth…in Swiss bank accounts” (Pg. 34). She takes delight in reminding us how we used them to our own advantage, which works in her favour when proving her points.  

              Kincaid does not choose to write delicately; rather, she writes with explicit emotions and an obvious resentment and anger, not caring what her audience presumes when they read her book. This is admirable, but at the same time can brew much disagreement, because this trait divides her readers who take the time to sit down and open the novel, into the ones with respect for her truthfulness, and the ones that simply shake their heads at what they are looking at. Besides the invigorating assaults on the conscience mind, this book is worth picking up and reading through in one go, for you can learn a lot from this book about small beautiful places, and what really goes on behind the shiny, bare-laid beaches and hotels with the locals. But, if you enjoy the life of tourism, prepare for a frontline ambush and man the trenches, for you will need the firepower to keep a hold of this novel while reading it in a good mood.

April 1, 2009

A Small Place: Accusing Antigua

by valdesjoha

Born as Elaine Richardson in St. John’s, Antigua, Jamaica Kincaid changed her name, as her family did not approve of her writing.  Possible reasons for disapproval can be perceived when reading her essay titled A Small Place. Simple and divided into four parts, Kincaid portrays precisely her thoughts on New Antigua and her resentment of its past.

Puzzling to allocate such a book into a specific category, Kincaid begins her bitter narration assuming that readers are tourists in this small exotic island of Antigua. As the first section is read, you take the role of perhaps an ignorant visitor traveling for a short time by reason of getting away from your developed land and habitual lifestyle.  Presumed that your short stay would be without worry and brimming with pleasure, the living conditions of locals “must never cross your mind” (Kincaid, 4).  Following a conceivably satirical opening, Kincaid then recalls Antigua and its occupation by Great Britain.  Irritated with the English culture and legacy of slavery at the time, she finds that the oppression of the past continues to corrupt Antiguans in the present.  Moving her focus back to present day, Kincaid then analyzes further the dishonesty of those in power such as the re-building of an old library not motivated by the desire to aid but rather to remember previous forms of ruling.  She continues to criticize Antiguan authorities as well as articulating the fears inhabitants have of the future. 

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April 1, 2009

A Small Place

by tasha

In Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place, the author takes her reader on an unexpected and thought-provoking journey to the place where she grew up. Antigua is a small island in the Caribbean, formerly of British rule, that is now a popular tourist destination. The book is split into four untitled sections. The first section uses the second person point-of-view, and starts out, “if you go to Antigua as a tourist, this is what you will see” (3). It goes on to describe the experiences a tourist might have upon arriving in Antigua. Presumptuous and provocative, Kincaid’s narrative intertwines the typical sights and feelings a tourist might experience with facts that only an Antiguan native could know, she states, “you must not wonder what exactly happened to the contents of you lavatory when you flush it…it might end in the water you are thinking of taking a swim in” (13-14). Kincaid paints a fairly unattractive image of tourists in general that leaves the reader feeling uncomfortable and defensive. In the second section, Kincaid uses her personal experiences in the colonial Antigua to examine the impact slavery and British colonialism have had on her nation and her childhood. She highlights the blatant racism, discrimination and enforced cultural conformity that she experienced growing up in a small country that belonged to a huge empire. Thirdly, Kincaid reports on the corruption and crime that blatantly exist within the post-independence government and the resulting neglect to the public, such as the public library for which repairs had been pending for many years. Kincaid’s final chapter is a curious contrast to the rest of the book. It describes the unreal physical beauty of the island as seeming, “as if it were stage sets for a play” (77). She finds the beauty that attracts so many Americans and Europeans to Antigua to be a mixed blessing for the Antiguans themselves because it also serves as, “a prison” that traps in its residents in a world of inescapable poverty while trapping out all the developments of the outside world (79).

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