The Island of Antigua in Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place

Turner Beach, Antigua, West Indies. PHOTO CREDIT: UpstateNYer. This photo is licensed under the the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

“What a beautiful island Antigua is–more beautiful than any of the other islands you have seen, and they were very beautiful, in their way, but they were much too green, much too lush with vegetation, …and since you are a tourist, the thought of what it might be like for someone who had to live day in, day out in a place that suffers constantly from drought…must never cross your mind.”1

In Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place, the author reminisces about the Antigua she grew up with while criticizing the crime and poverty ridden island it has become. At first she describes the perfect tourist experience while in Antigua, the oblivion and European superiority that she claims all tourists experience; the lack of awareness of the Antiguan culture, and the lack of care for its poor inhabitants. Slowly, the narrative delves deep into Kincaid’s memory to depict her experience and opinion of the British colonization of Antigua, and the resulting degradation of the island’s natural habitat and wilderness. She describes the broken down library, with a sign claiming repairs were pending, that has been there since she was a child. She references the fancy, Japanese cars that everyone seems to drive, out of place on the reduced island. Ultimately though, Kincaid arrives at her criticism of the Antiguan government whom everyone knows to be engaging in illegal activities, and whom she blames for the continuing decay of the island.

Antigua is an island in the West Indies, which was settled in 1632 by British colonists, whom established a permanent European settlement. From then on, the economy and environment of Antigua was changed, as the Europeans shipped foreign plants and animals to the island and used it as a sugar colony which resulted in the importation of slaves. Today, the bulk of Antigua’s economy is dependent on tourism, which Kincaid describes extensively in A Small Place . The island houses various forms of hotels and resorts, in hopes of depicting Antigua as an escape, rather than a deteriorating island that is losing its natural culture.

Read more about Antigua on Wikipedia. Find A Small Place at a local library or on Amazon.

1Kincaid, Jamaica. A Small Place. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1988. Print.

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